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Comments Off on Oscars 2017: Moonlight won best picture (eventually), but is it actually any good?

Oscars 2017: Moonlight won best picture (eventually), but is it actually any good?

Oscars 2017: Moonlight won best picture (eventually), but is it actually any good?

Andre Holland as Kevin and Trevante Rhodes as Black on Moonlight. Alex Hibbert (left) as Chiron and Mahershala Ali as Juan.
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Mahershala Ali poses in the press room with the award for best actor in a supporting role for “Moonlight” at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP) Photo: Jordan Strauss

By now, the entire Western world knows they gave the best picture Oscar (briefly at least) to the wrong film on Monday. But what about the flipside of that equation? Did they eventually give it to the right one?

Most cinemagoers can’t answer that question because Moonlight is one of the least-seen best picture winners in Oscar history.

In , it has taken barely $1 million since opening on 26 screens a month ago. With the average n ticket costing $13.60, that’s about 74,000 paying customers.

In the US, it had taken $US23 million ($A30 million) by Oscar day. Their average ticket price is $US8.73, suggesting an audience of 2.63 million or so. Even so, that’s just 0.82 per cent of the population.

Only one best picture winner – The Hurt Locker, in 2010 – had done less business than Moonlight at the time of its win, a shade under $US15 million (worldwide, and mostly post-Oscars, Kathryn Bigelow’s Iraq War film eventually crawled to $US49 million). La La Land, by contrast, has so far taken $US369 million.

In all the confusion and excitement over Monday’s stuff-up, it was easy to lose sight of how significant Moonlight’s win really was – and not just because of the money.

This is a morally and formally challenging movie about a young gay black man journeying from bullied child to troubled teen to gangsta. How many gay black men have you seen on film before? How many gay black gangsters?

The central character, Chiron (pronounced Shy-rone), is played by three different actors at three different ages: as a boy of eight or so, nicknamed Little (Alex Hibbert); as a teenager (Ashton Sanders); and as a grown man who has taken the name Black (Trevante Rhodes).

All three performances are remarkable, though it was Mahershala Ali who won the best supporting actor Oscar for his turn as Juan, the Miami drug dealer who becomes a kind of father figure and, eventually, role model for the fatherless and near-enough motherless Little after rescuing him from a gang of neighbourhood bullies.

The story is structured in three acts (the screenplay was adapted from Tarell Alvin McCraney’s unproduced play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue; McCraney and director Barry Jenkins also won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay) but it is totally filmic, playing with framing, focus, light and sound to create a picture of dislocation, disorientation, fractured identity. The very structure of the thing helps us understand Chiron never had a chance to become whole.

Moonlight doesn’t glamorise the drug life, but it does probe beneath the cliches to suggest that sometimes a dealer may be something other than a monster (it is, though, a lot less forgiving of addicts, presumably because its crack-addicted mother is drawn so closely from McCraney’s and Jenkins’ own life experiences).

To return for a moment to the messy business of money: Moonlight reportedly cost just $1.5 million to make. It could hardly be at a greater remove from the bloated budgets and empty effects of so much Hollywood moviemaking. And at that price, it’s already looking like a canny bit of business for Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B, which has just collected its second best picture Oscar in four years (after 12 Years a Slave in 2014), and its fourth straight nomination in the category.

After two years of #oscarssowhite controversy, there was a whiff this year of an over-correction. Certainly the presence of Hidden Figures – crowd-pleaser though it is – among the best picture nominees was a surprise, and Fences was more deserving of a Tony than an Oscar (Viola Davis’ win was thoroughly deserved, though).

But there was nothing tokenistic about Moonlight’s success. It’s as bold, brave and innovative a piece of filmmaking as you’re likely to see this year.

All that’s left now is for people to do just that. See it.

Karl Quinn is on facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on twitter @karlkwin

Comments Off on The new investment strategy that’s better than index funds

The new investment strategy that’s better than index funds

The new investment strategy that’s better than index funds

Core plus satellite could be a winning investment strategy. Photo: AP Photo/ESA/HOYou’ve probably come across the term “index tracking” – I’ve written about it extensively in this column.
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At its simplest, it’s buying the returns of the market cheaply. The idea has been around for a very long time, but it’s the advent of exchange traded funds (ETFs) that has made index investing popular.

ETFs track the returns of all sorts of markets and are listed on the n sharemarket with units in them bought and sold just like shares.

And they are cheap with management fees a fraction of a per cent.

However, there is a danger that anyone who buys an ETF that tracks the n sharemarket, for example, ends up investing in the 10 or so largest stocks by market capitalisation – the stocks that dominate our market.

The n sharemarket is top-heavy by international standards; a few large stocks at the top with a long tail of minnow stocks.

Investing in an ETF tracking the largest 200 n-listed companies means investing in the big banks and the big miners – hardly a diversified investment strategy.

But there is an idea called core plus satellite – where there’s a core of low-cost index trackers with satellites added – that may give investors the best solution of all.

The satellites could be those active managers who have a good chance of more than earning their fees as study after study shows that most don’t earn their fees.

They could be shares themselves – growth shares for those who are still accumulating their savings and want share price growth, or income stocks, the big dividend payers for those who need income.

I asked Tim Murphy, director of manager research at investment researcher Morningstar, how the strategy could work in practice.

He says the actual splits between core and satellite will depend on the asset class and the growth versus defensive split based on investors’ personal circumstances, which is why financial advice is recommended.

Murphy says, in terms of the satellites, funds that invest in smaller n companies have a better track record than other types of share funds in adding value after fees.

Most trustees of self managed super funds prefer to use direct investments, and especially listed investments rather than unlisted managed funds.

Of the n shares component, there could be a core of, say, 70 per cent and satellites worth 30 per cent, Murphy says.

Instead of ETFs, the core n shares exposure could be one of the big listed investment companies (LICs), such as n Foundation Investment Company (AFIC) or Argo Investments.

These big LICs pay fairly steady dividends. And while they are active managers, these older LICs are managed conservatively with costs that are comparable to ETFs.

Sometimes LIC share prices can get out of whack with the value of the underlying portfolio.

That means that the share price can move above or below the value of the portfolio holdings and so care has to be taken when buying and selling shares in them.

Follow John Collett on Twitter.

Comments Off on James O’Connor stood down by Toulon over cocaine bust

James O’Connor stood down by Toulon over cocaine bust

James O’Connor stood down by Toulon over cocaine bust

Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal. Photo: Dan MullanToulon owner Mourad Boudjellal says troubled former Wallaby James O’Connor has “problems” and will be suspended for testing positive to cocaine but does not want to “prolong” the process of deciding his future at the club.
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Early on Wednesday, it was announced that O’Connor had been stood down for a week by the club following the incident that resulted in O’Connor and former All Black Ali Williams being arrested for an alleged drug deal outside a Paris nightclub.

The 26-year-old met with Boudjallel on Tuesday (local time) and was informed of the decision with his future to be decided by the Top 14 club next week.

Reports translated from French newspaper Le Figaro quoted Boudjellal as saying he was not going to “renew” O’Connor’s contract, however the actual word he used was “prolong” and in the context of contract negotiations.

“Let’s say that for its extension of contract, it has relaunched the debate. We are not going to prolong it,” Boudjellal told Le Figaro. “We’re already going to try to manage this season. But I do not want to overwhelm him.”

Boudjellal’s interview suggests he has not a made final decision as to whether O’Connor will depart Toulon, but made it clear he was unhappy with the incident that may have spoiled any chance of a Wallabies comeback.

“He is a kid who has problems, who is 26 years old,” Boudjellal said. “I will not kill him either. Whatever decision I would take, I will consider everything. I’m not here to destroy him.

“He will not escape a lay-off, of course. Then we’ll make a decision. There are two different cases. On one side we have a 36-year-old (Ali Williams) whose career is over, and on the other a 26-year-old whose career, I hope for him, is not over.

“James made a mistake, and it is difficult to defend. What shocks me most is that we have a Saturday game that is very important ??? and I have a player who was in a nightclub in front of the Arc de Triomphe at 3 o’clock in the morning with I do not know how many grams of alcohol in the blood and who, in addition, consumes cocaine.”

Boudjellal said he would make it his mission to get to the bottom of what happened as well as suggesting that cocaine was being preferred by players in the French provincial competition to alcohol.

“I still want to know who knew the dealer,” Boudjellal said. “I really feel, and it is only me, that in many clubs, cocaine has been invited a little in the festive environment. And that’s a bad thing. We had the alcohol stage, now it’s a step up because cocaine is festive, it disappears easily. It has to stop. So I want to know if it is an isolated case or if there are other players who like to party.

“It’s my personal feeling. I do not have any proof, but I feel that it has been a bit of a challenge in the rugby world because alcohol is perhaps not enough. I do not know.

“I would remain surprised if this is an isolated case.”

Meanwhile on Tuesday night, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika weighed in on the issue on Fox Sports’ Super Rugby: Kick & Chase programme, saying: “It’s disappointing for him.”

“(But) we’ve got to take the football out of it for a second and say ‘he’s obviously a good lad deep down. Otherwise he wouldn’t be in this game.

“If he wasn’t, he’d be off doing other stuff. He wouldn’t want to play footy, be in a team sport, have the camaraderie around him being in that.

“So there’s a good lad in there somewhere and you’ve just got to leave the footy out of it for a minute and let the guy get the assistance he needs to get back personally first of all and then see what happens with that with footy.”

Comments Off on National Red Balloon Day 2017YOUR PHOTOS

National Red Balloon Day 2017YOUR PHOTOS

National Red Balloon Day 2017YOUR PHOTOS

National Red Balloon Day 2017 | YOUR PHOTOS centralschoolofdance Today our Summer School students visited the Charlestown Fire Station to take some photos to prepare for #nationalredballoonday What a worthy cause to support- our friendly Fireys are so amazing! #csod #ballerina #love #dance #dancer #gorgeous #firefighter #amazing
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primechildrensdentalcare National Red Balloon Day 🎈🎈🎈#thankyoufireys #nationalredballoonday2017 #firefighter #thankyouforyourservice

jennakate_b Happy Red Balloon Day 🎈 #redballoonday #tohonourourfirefighters #youngestrecruit #offtochildcare #bitcute

kate_hodgson Thank you #nationalredballoonday #nrbd #simplewaytosaythanks #thankyoufireys

jwimbs Massive shout out to @glenw and all the #firies for their tireless work for the community #nationalredballoonday 🎈🎈#qfes

evergreenemily #thankyoufireys #qfes #nationalredballoonday #firefighter #myniecelily 😁🚒💦🔥

kimbadistrictcouncil Today is National Red Balloon day🎈🎈🎈a day to say thank you to our fireys and also to our local businesses who support their volunteer efforts during work hours. Our community thanks you for your service and encourages any community members that would like to know more about volunteering to speak with a CFS member. #nationalredballoonday2017 #thankyoufireys #thankyoulocalbusinesses #countryfireservice #cfs #redballoons

thepurpleempire Red balloon day 🎈🎈🎈#redballoonday #thankyoufireys #thebasin #cfa #99redballoonsgoby

elizabethleecanberra Today is #redballoonday🎈a day to say #thankyoufireys for your bravery and service when we need it most

luc11e Happy National Red Balloon Day 🎈 🎈🎈🎈🎈🎈🎈🎈🎈🎈#thankyoufireys #boxhillnelsonrfs #thankyou #volunteers #morningsinthehills #nswrfs #nswruralfireservice

ambogeoff Well today I’m thanking all the great people I have met over the last 12 months! What an awesome bunch of people who are my 2nd family! Last year was a fun ride – bring on 2017! #redballoonday #thankyoufiries #nationalredballoonday 🚒🎈🚒🎈🚒🎈🚒🎈🚒🎈🚒🎈🚒

luc11e Morning shout out to my fellow RFS volunteers on National Red Balloon Day 🎈 #thankyoufireys #volunteers #thankyou #boxhillnelsonrfs #nswrfs

justkath4 It’s #nationalredballoonday2017 today – February 28 !! Shouted myself a stubby holder – ordered last week and arrived in the post today – just in time !!! Cheers to all the #Fireys ❤️️ Love your work !!! More #CFSVolunteers are needed always.. have a think about signing up ✨👍✨

lego_qfes Happy Red Balloon Day to all those firefighters out there! #qfes #rfs #rfbaq #rfsq #qldfire #lego #lego_qfes #redballoonday @qldfire

annamayde Happy face! Messy moosh and all 😜 (She enjoyed that red velvet cupcake!) Celebrating Red Balloon Day – thanking our local firies for all that they do! #redballoonday #thankyoufiries #messymoosh #happyface #redvelvetcupcakes #proudofdaddy #localheroes

thepurpleempire Red balloon day 🎈🎈🎈#redballoonday #thankyoufireys #thebasin #cfa #99redballoonsgoby

cfa_district20 🎈🎈National Red Balloon Day February 28th 2017🎈🎈 A day that thanks our heroic Aussie Fire Fighters. Please join us in saying THANK YOU FIREYS. 100% of profits go directly back to Fire Services 🚒 #nationalredballoonday #firefighters #thanks #cfadistrict20 #every1comeshome

noica_x I was gonna post this tomorrow when February kicks in, but today is just as hot and windy as next month will be. National Red Balloon Day is on 28 Feb. If you enjoy heroes and dancers as much as you enjoy staying safe and alive, please support our brave firewomen and men! You can buy red balloons 🎈 from www.nationalredballoonday苏州模特佳丽招聘 and learn more. These delightful ballerinas from @centralschoolofdance visited their local fireys to spread the word and also remind you to stay hydrated in this ridiculous summer! PS: My birthday is on the 6th, buy me a red balloon! Or maybe give your valentine one. #dance #ballet #nationalredballoonday #firefighters #ballerinas #summer

TweetFacebookNational Red Balloon Day is held annuallyto honour the work of n professional and volunteer firefighters.

Those who wish to say ‘thanks’ are encouraged to put up red balloons on letterboxes, fences and business windows on February 28 each year.

Scroll through the gallery above to see how people paid tributeto their local fireys in 2017.

Comments Off on NRL concussion: James Graham changes tune on head knocks

NRL concussion: James Graham changes tune on head knocks

NRL concussion: James Graham changes tune on head knocks

James Graham after being knocked out against the Roosters in 2015. Picture: Getty ImagesBulldogs captain James Graham says players will continue to be frustrated when they are forced from the field with head knocksbut believes the NRL should be laudedfor trying to protect them from themselves.
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The handling of concussions is a major talking point after James McManus began legal action against former club Newcastlefor allegedly breaching its duty of care to him in a series of incidents.

Graham has been a vocal critic of the NRL’s concussion protocols, believing players rather than club medicos are in the best position to make a call on whether they return to the fray. The English international said in March 2015: “Why does a doctor tell me I can’t go back on? Why can’t that be my choice?”

But he has been reading the latest medical and scientific literature and evolving his perspectives on concussion. Hesaid much of the research was ambiguous and incomplete, but the NRL should be praised for protecting players whose instinct was to stay onthe field.

He said players “possibly” needed to be protected from themselves.

“Fundamentally I support the NRL’s stance on it and the protocols that are in place now, but I would like to see certain aspects of it improve in terms of the testing to get back on,” he said.

Some experts have publicly urgedhead office to appoint independent doctors to screen concussed players, but Graham said it could be difficult for unfamiliar doctors to tell if a player was behaving unusually.

“One of the things with concussion is the personality change,”Graham said. “So if you’ve got an independent doctor who has no relationship with that player, how are they going to make a judgement call on if their personality has changed?

“The doctor at the Bulldogs, I have a good relationship with. He knows my personality, so I think he can make a call more on that than, ‘Can you balance on one foot for 20 seconds [with your eyes closed]?’I couldn’t do that [now].”

In a quest to garner more data on concussions, the UKRugbyHealthproject, led by Leeds Beckett University, is expanding to . Concussion researchers includingHeadsafefounder Dr Adrian Cohen are encouraging retired players to become part of the research project.

“The long-term effects of participation in sport need to be understood and acknowledged in order that we can care for players today and into the future,”Dr Cohen said.

Graham said there were many grey areas when it came to research into grey matter.

“There is so much we don’t know about concussion,” Graham said. “Someone will see that movie with Will Smith in it and they all of a sudden become an expert on concussion when a lot of facts in that movie [are in dispute].

“Not many people know about the genetic side of being predisposed to concussions, so it’s hard to label everyone the same. It’s not black and white, concussion.I personally don’t believe it’s as easy as that.

“Having said that, you’ve got to have safety first, otherwise you’re going down a slippery slope. What’s good for the goose is not necessarily what is good for the gander. You have to protect all the players.

“I’d like to see it case by case, but I don’t think it’s as easy as that. It’s a very difficult subject for people to tackle.It’s a difficult situation to get right when the stakes are so high.

“We all know about the recent press about Canterbury and the stakes and the pressure that brings. Then you have a player who may or not be concussed.

“If you bring in certain protocols that stop certain things happening, that’s got to be a good thing.”

Comments Off on Raymond Terrace man Shane Bowling jailed over sword, sawn-off shotgun

Raymond Terrace man Shane Bowling jailed over sword, sawn-off shotgun

Raymond Terrace man Shane Bowling jailed over sword, sawn-off shotgun

A file photo of a samurai sword. A MAN found in possession of a large samurai sword and a sawn-off shotgun at Salt Ash has been sentenced to a maximum of 12 months in jail in Raymond Terrace Local Court.
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Shane Peter Bowling, 41, claimed to be a collector of weapons intent on repairing the firearm to its former glory.

But Bowling, of Troman Parade, Raymond Terrace, was nervous, constantly fidgeting and couldn’t stand still when police spoke to him inSalt Ash Avenue about 8.15am on December 9 last year, court documents state.

Police had received a call about a suspicious man and arrived to find Bowling standing next to a grey Holden Commodore.

The car had broken down, Bowling explained, and he didn’t want to leave it.

He had been there a few hours, he said, and had earlier been accompanied by a mate.

But when quizzed about this mystery man, Bowling couldn’t remember his name, where he lived or how long before he had left the location.

Police checked Bowling’s lengthy criminal history and saw that he had recently been spoken to about stolen property.

They assumed he was nervous, and didn’t want to leave the vehicle,because there was stolen goods hidden somewhere in the car.

But when police searched his car they found a backpack that contained a green Woolworth bag wrapped around a double-barreled shotgun.

When asked what the item was, Bowling replied: “A shotgun barrel. “It’s just a collectible. It doesn’t fire or anything. I was just going to restore it.”

Police kept searching and found a large samurai sword in the boot of the car, court documents state.

Bowling was arrested and initially refused bail by Port Stephens police due to his lengthy criminal history and the seriousness of the charges.

But after spending the day in custody, he was granted bail in Maitland Local Court on December 9.

He had pleaded guilty to possession of a shortened firearm without authority, a charge which carries a maximum of 14 years, and custody of a knife in a public place.

Bowling remained at liberty until Magistrate Caleb Franklin ruled the offences deserved a custodial sentence.

He jailed Bowling for a maximum of 12 months, with a non-parole period of eight months for the firearm offence.

Bowling will be eligible for parole on October 26.

Comments Off on Margan wins gold at national tourism awards

Margan wins gold at national tourism awards

Margan wins gold at national tourism awards

WINNING COMBINATION: Margan’s horticulturalist Pat Hansson with owner and restaurateur Lisa Margan.
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The Hunter Region won gold, silver and bronze at the annual Qantas n Tourism Awards in Darwin last week.

Margan Wines & Restaurant, at Broke, won the highest honour for Excellence in Food Tourism for the second time, having previously taken home gold in 2014. Sand Dune Adventures came second in theExcellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism category and Château Élan at The Vintage took home bronze for Business Events Venue.

The Qantas n Tourism Awards is the tourism industry’s premier awards event and recognises outstanding industry achievements across 25 categories. The awards draw together more than 800 tourism business representatives from across the country along with federal and state tourism ministers, CEOs of state and regional tourism bodies and tourism industry leaders.

Margan’swin was a testament to itspopularrestaurant,agri-dining focus and vineyard and wine tasting operations, as well as its food experiences which range from cooking schools tokitchengarden tours.

“It’s a privilege and honour to receivethisaward as it recognises the focus we have at Margan on delivering anexcellent food and wine experiencehere in the beautiful Hunter Valley, ‘s oldest and most visited wine region,” Lisa Margan told the Newcastle Herald.

“We give huge credit to our team at Margan who share our passion, vision andcommitmentto excellence.

“ has many quality food and wine regions, all doing great things, and these national awards are therefore very competitive. We are proud to fly the flag for NSW and for the Hunter whose food and wine scene gets better every year.”

This latest award for Margan adds to its already impressive list of accolades:SMH Good Food Guide –One Chef Hat 2016;Andrew Margan –Viticulturist of the Year 2015;Winner – Best Winery, NSW Tourism Awards Hall of Fame; Winner –Excellence in Food Tourism, NSW Tourism Awards Hall of Fame; Winner –Excellence in Food Tourism, n Tourism Awards 2014 and 2016;Winner –Hunter Valley Cellar Door of the Year 2013;5 Star Winery James Halliday Wine Companion 2009-2017.

The Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Steven Ciob MP, congratulated the 25 winners and more than 200 finalists for their dedication to ’s tourism industry.

“’s export tourism industry is now more valuable to the national economy than coal or rural exports,” he said.

“The continued passion and commitment from the hard-working ns honoured at the awards is crucial to further growth and attracting more visitors to .”

Comments Off on Ultra Swing Lounge

Ultra Swing Lounge

Ultra Swing Lounge

Theatre reviewUltra Swing Lounge
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Hunter Lifestyle, at the Civic Theatre, Newcastle

February 24 and 25

THE five years that have passed since the previous Ultra Swing Lounge show was staged have done nothing to reduce the style and pleasure of this bright and lively tribute to the swing-style musical shows that dazzled audiences in the 1930s and 40s. And while singers Daniel Stoddart and Steve Hudson, who have been with the shows since the first in 2004, joked at an early stage about putting on weight, their performances are as svelte as ever.

They and the other member of the singing trio, Rob McDougall, showed when presenting numbers such as Call Me Irresponsible and I Did It My Way just how timeless such numbers can be. And while they generally wore dinner suits, the colourful Latin American style garb they had in I Go To Rio, especially that of Stoddart, added to the amusement. Stoddart’s later red coat adornment in Mac the Knife was in line with the street delivery of the ballad in The Threepenny Opera, with two dancers as agile passers-by.

The ballroom dancers, Aric Yegudkin and Masha Belash, and Julian Caillon and Daria Walczak, added to the charm when all on stage in numbers including In the Mood, and as pairs and individuals. Tap dancer Tristan Fletcher never put a foot wrong in his pieces that included dancing to the band number Bojangles. Guest singer Amy Vee, performing with the male singers, certainly showed They Can’t Take That Away From Me. And the skills of the 22 band members, under musical director and pianist Greg Paterson, came through in the accompaniments, including McDougall’s moving I’ll Be Seeing You, which was predominantly backed by strings and piano.

Producer and director, Phil Collins, kept the show moving briskly along, with the brief comments and jokes delivered by the male vocal trio between numbers adding to the fun, and charming actions that included Hudson, accompanied by a female dancer, moving among women in the audience and handing them bunches of flowers, during the rendition of The Way You Look Tonight. Set and lighting designer Scott Travis had the stage as an elegant multi-level verandah, with two marble-like pillars on the top level and a backdrop of a starry night sky, with the colours changing to match the nature of each song.

Comments Off on Buoyant student numbers underpin development

Buoyant student numbers underpin development

Buoyant student numbers underpin development

Whitley student accommodation, Melbourne. Photo: Nick Lenaghan Renders of the new Scape student accommodation on the CUB site on Swanston Street in Melbourne Photo: Nick Lenaghan
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Booming numbers of international students coming to to study are underpinning developer enthusiasm for the accommodation projects needed to house them.

While prospective “bedspace” numbers are ramping up fast in the next couple of years, local players reckon there still won’t be enough to meet student needs.

The 7625 bedspaces delivered to the n market this year is a 65 per cent increase on last year’s total, according to research by Knight Frank.

While another 9102 bedspaces are promised in 2018 and a further 11,422 in 2019, numbers trail off after that.

But the election of Donald Trump in the US and the Brexit vote in the UK are combining to create even greater demand for ‘s university places, according to players in the space.

Scape Student Living executive director Craig Carracher has just returned from China where he found great enthusiasm for in the face of the Brexit and Trump votes in the UK and US.

“Whether it’s uncertainty in Europe, whether it’s Trump, whether it’s Brexit, is seen as a safe haven,” Mr Carracher said. “In the next year or two, we will start to see it flow through.”

The current ratio of international students to bedspaces is running at nine-to-eleven students per bed, he said.

“In the UK, it is three-to-four to one which creates some competition on prices. But if all the beds are delivered that are planned in we still wouldn’t satisfy demand.”

Recently released figures from the Department of Education and Training show the number of international students in grew by 11 per cent last year as 554,179 full-fee paying students took up places in local educational institutions.

New enrolments were up 10 percent on 2015 figures, outpacing the 10 year average of 7.1 per cent.

Chinese students made up 27.5 per cent international students, an increase of 15.7 per cent since 2015. But the fastest growing source of new international students is South America: the number of Colombian students increased 22.4 per cent to 17,190 and Brazilian student numbers grew by 19.6 per cent to 29,440.

More than half (57 per cent) of student accommodation projects have opened in Melbourne, where Knight Frank director Paul Savitz said it is easier to find the sites.

“I’m fielding a lot of queries from overseas groups looking to come into the market. A big European group was in town last week and another group is coming next week,” Mr Savitz said.

“A lot of groups are looking in Sydney but it’s very, very difficult to get sites. The residential and office markets are so hot especially in areas where student accommodation providers want to be – railway stations especially,” he said.

“That’s why they’re focusing on Melbourne.”

Mr Carracher said Scape, which has $1 billion of projects in the pipeline for Melbourne alone, said overseas players would need to partner with locals to understand the domestic market.

“They’re coming to look at the market but they’re not executing deals,” he said.

His group is backed by European and Asian investors and has $1 billion worth of projects underway. Brisbane-based Blue Sky has a pipeline of 3000 beds in a joint venture with Goldman Sachs.

“There’s a whole range of considerations that apply to students and this market has different states, different insurance, different universities and different rules in every city.”

As the new academic year gets underway, industry focus is on acquiring new sites and getting up new projects but the outcome of the Campus Living Village’s 40,000 bed portfolio sale remains a hot topic.

The portfolio, expected to fetch around $2 billion, includes 70 properties in the UK, USA and and is regarded as a very complex acquisition.

And even CLV is looking at the future. A spokesperson said, “At the moment we are not building in but we are looking closely with our university partners. It’s a very buoyant and exciting market.”

Comments Off on Property underpins Harvey Norman profits

Property underpins Harvey Norman profits

Property underpins Harvey Norman profits

Earnings from extensive property holdings spiked 91 per cent, largely from revaluations. Photo: Scott BarbourHarvey Norman’s $2.6 billion property portfolio continues to underpin the group’s profitability, generating a $75.74 million value uplift and another $71 million in income.
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The retail giant’s record half-year results show runaway property values and blistering summer weather helped drive its total profits from property, furniture and whitegoods 39 per cent higher to $257.29 million.

While the retailer is best known for its sprawling electronics and furniture stores, its earnings from its extensive property holdings spiked 91 per cent, largely from the revaluations.

Without contributions from revaluations, the retailer’s profit after tax was up 19.7 per cent to $204.27 million off the back of franchise sales, which grew 5.2 per cent to $2.86 billion.

The result reflected strong retail spending in NSW and Victoria as well as the “wealth effect” of higher house prices and hot weather along the eastern seaboard powering sales of airconditioning units.

Billionaire retailer and chair Gerry Harvey said revaluations would push up to $3 billion in the near future.

Mr Harvey would not provide any details on exactly how many of the Harvey Norman stores are owned by the group, except to say an “awful lot”.

Mr Harvey rejected suggestions the business had purchased any of the former Masters sites.

“We had a look at all of them and but we haven’t got any interest in any of them. For good reason, they are not in the right areas or we have stores nearby,” Mr Harvey said.

The Harvey Norman property empire spans 238 stores in and 85 shops in New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Croatia and Ireland.

The large-format, multi-tenanted Harvey Norman franchise stores, along with a diverse mix of third-party tenants, accounted for nearly half the group’s earnings – 54 per cent of its total asset base and about 40 per cent of profits before tax.

At each reporting period, one-sixth of Harvey Norman’s investment property portfolio are independently valued, while the remaining five-sixths are reviewed for fair value by the directors.

The entire portfolio is independently valued every three years, the group said.

The retailer said there was no further write-down on its mining camp investments, although it booked a $4.62 million impairment loss on the project.

Over the previous two periods the group has become another casualty of the fading mining boom, writing off $13.2 million from its initial $60 million investment in building transportable accommodation units or “dongas” to house mining camps in remote parts of .

The joint venture between Mr Harvey and unnamed partners ploughed large sums into the dongas just as the resources boom was ending.

Another of Mr Harvey’s pet projects, a 49.9 per cent investment in Victorian dairy farm and pedigree breeding operation, Coomboona Holdings, also racked up losses of $3.26 million for the half year.

In the previous corresponding period its losses were $1.79 million.

Future growth is expected to come from Harvey Norman’s overseas network as well as its new start-up ventures including the fledgling School Locker business in .

Harvey Norman has recently acquired a property in Dublin and plans to open a signature store there in the next few months and Mr Harvey said the Singapore-Malaysia market could support as many as 30 more stores.