Bryce Hegarty starts to look the part as Melbourne Rebels’ No.10

16/12/2018 // by admin

Confidence can be a remarkable thing. Ask about Bryce Hegarty’s progress as Melbourne Rebels’ five-eighth and that is often the improvement that is pointed to.
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Hegarty had a shaky start to the season as he looked to confirm himself as the preferred replacement in the No.10 jersey for departed superstars James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale.

In truth, the Rebels did not have many options for the No.10 jersey after Waratahs playmaker Bernard Foley had a late change of heart last year against playing for Melbourne.

And, thrust into the playmaking role, which he filled at times in 2013, Hegarty struggled to control the team around the park; his kicking game was badly exposed at times and his game was potted with errors such as kicking out on the full and poor decision-making.

But in recent weeks a transformation has taken place. Suddenly, he has become far more confident, his mistakes less common and his play notable for his impressive actions, often setting up tries.

His progress will take another step against NSW Waratahs at AAMI Park on Friday night, when he will be the senior partner in the halves combination.

With Nic Stirzaker and former Wallabies halfback Luke Burgess suffering leg injuries, 22-year-old Ben Meehan, who has played five games off the bench for the Rebels, will be handed his first start at No.9.

Hegarty’s long-time mentor and family friend, former rugby league star Steve Renouf, believes the best is yet to be seen from Hegarty, who was recruited from NRL club Brisbane Broncos’ junior system.

‘‘I noticed when he first started he was just playing, I think, with what he was told to do,” Renouf said.

“He didn’t try to overplay his hand, which I thought was a real mature thing to do because knowing Bryce he naturally has an eye for the game, so he likes to do his own thing.

‘‘But he’s really been disciplined, working in with the play of the Rebels … and now I think what you’ll see, he’ll start to get a bit freer in his play. You’ll see a kid who’s a bit more confident and he’ll start playing to what’s in front of him and to take a few more chances.’’

Teammate and leadership group member Tom English said Hegarty’s growing confidence could be seen in his performances.

‘‘It shows out there on the field,’’ English said. ‘‘He’s really looking to take it to the line and he’s playing all options and his vision got better.’’

Rebels rugby operations manager Baden Stephenson said the 21-year-old, who has re-signed until the end of 2015, was also showing a more assertive attitude in training and team meetings.

But despite Hegarty’s improvement, which has contributed to the team’s better performances, and the presence of highly regarded back-up Jack Debreczeni, Stephenson confirmed the Rebels were still chasing an established inside back who can play five-eighth, although the emphasis has seemingly moved to adding depth to the ranks after the unsuccessful bids for the likes of Foley, Matt Toomua, Christian Lealiifano and reported interest in British and Irish Lions five-eighth James Hook and Queensland stalwart Mike Harris.

‘‘To Bryce’s credit, he has really developed as the year’s gone on and he’s been doing a good job for us,’’ Stephenson said.

‘‘Having said that, it’s probably fairly clear that we have been looking for a quality and experienced inside back to help the team and assist with our progression as a team.

‘‘Tony [McGahan] quite rightly mentions to Bryce and the team that the blowtorch is on, but that’s where you’re going to learn and the biggest thing for him and the team evolving this year is that we have to learn from our mistakes and keep making improvements.’’

Meanwhile, Rebels skipper Scott Higginbotham said young halfback Meehan would have no problems fitting straight into the side against the Waratahs.

‘‘He’s a confident young bloke and we love playing with him,’’ Higginbotham said.

Former Waratah Josh Holmes, who was drafted into the squad two weeks ago as injury cover, has been named on the bench.

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

Bye, Singapore: the hottest new stopover cities for Australians

16/12/2018 // by admin

Dubai is a top stopover choice for many Australians who are flying to Europe. Photo: Dubai TourismShopping in Bangkok and eating noodles in Singapore are yesterday’s news.
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As we head into the peak season for trips to the northern hemisphere, the hottest stopover destinations are in the Middle East and China, with big-name attractions, cultural bites and longer stays on the menu.

“There’s definitely been a noticeable shift in recent times,” says the managing director of Creative Holidays, James Gaskell. “A lot of people are chasing more unusual experiences on their way to Europe.”

Gaskell says the nature of stopovers has changed, from the traditional one-night “wash and brush up” in Hong Kong or Singapore to three or four days of active sightseeing and exploring in new cities.

The shift in destinations is largely due to changes in the airline scene, particularly the growth of Middle Eastern airlines Emirates and Etihad, and Qantas’s partnership with Emirates.

Increased flight options to Chinese cities have also played a role, along with the introduction of visa-free stopovers for Australian travellers to Guangzhou.

China Southern Airlines, which has been actively promoting the 72-hour visa-free option since it was introduced last August, says nearly 40 per cent of travellers who have taken it up have been from Australia and New Zealand.

The airline has worked with local tourism authorities to put together stopover packages including Cantonese food and local sights, as an alternative to our traditional Asian stopover cities.

Guangzhou might be new to many Australian travellers, but China Southern says it is now China’s third largest city for tourism, clocking up more than 50 million visitor nights last year.

The executive general manager of marketing for Flight Centre, Colin Bowman, agrees long-standing stopover destinations such as Hong Kong and Singapore have waned, with many Australians now flying to Europe via Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

Bowman says some travellers are “not particularly enamoured” with the Middle Eastern routes, which offer a very long leg out of Australia followed by a shorter leg into Europe, but many see it as an opportunity to bypass London and go straight into other European cities.

Some choose the Middle Eastern routes because they want to fly with the well-regarded Middle Eastern carriers, while others see it as an opportunity to explore somewhere new and see “two cities for the price of one”.

“People are open to these options because they’re always looking for new places to go,” Bowman says. “There are some good accommodation deals, too, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.”

Bowman says stopover travellers in the Middle East can get four or five star hotels from about $100 a night, making it an affordable add-on to their holiday plans.

James Gaskell says the average stopover in Dubai for Creative Holidays customers is four days, while a typical stopover in Abu Dhabi is two to three nights. He believes the “Dubai publicity machine” has played a big role in the Middle East’s growing popularity, along with the number of big-name attractions in the region.

Do you think the Middle East and China are the best stopover destinations? What would your stopover choice be? Post your comments below.

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Meet Gloria, the sex worker grandma who made Tony Abbott wink

16/12/2018 // by admin

Gloria, the pensioner and phone sex worker who surprised Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Luis Ascui Gloria, or Judith Palmer
Nanjing Night Net

Tony Abbott admits wink was a mistake

She is known as Gloria, the grandmother telephone sex worker whose talkback call with the Prime Minister, and the wink it evoked, triggered a storm of controversy.

Her real name is Judith Power and she is a long-time feminist activist and anarchist but insists she has never been a member of a political party, even though Liberal Party twitter accounts claim she is an ALP branch secretary.

An ALP spokesperson said Ms Power had never been a member.

The 67-year-old from Warburton, Melbourne, did not hold back in her interview with Fairfax on Thursday, saying the Prime Minister was as sleazy as some of her callers.

“He looks like what some of my clients sound like,” she said, of the wink and smile he gave as Ms Power revealed she worked as a telephone sex worker to make ends meet.

Ms Power said she decided to phone ABC talkback radio on Wednesday after “seething for weeks” about the Abbott government.

She has a range of illnesses including emphysema and was particularly incensed about their new $7 GP visit fee, which was revealed in the budget.

The wink: Abbott’s moment in a gif

The grandmother of three has a distinct, raspy voice and said the controversy has not been good for business. She suspects some of her clients may have recognised her voice and is uncomfortable with the fact her real name has been revealed in social media.

She began working on the sex line three years ago after losing her long-term cleaning job.

“I couldn’t find any other work at the time. I saw an ad in the local paper and needed work so I thought I’d give it a try and virtually started straight away.”

She receives 50 cents a minute and says the average call lasts 2 minutes.

Her clients come from across Australia and New Zealand and include isolated, single farmers, and before the mining boom ended, lots of men working in Western Australia.

She also provide phone sex services to disabled people, and young people coming home from nightclubs on a Sunday morning.

“Some of them do ring in because I’m 67. One of them is a granny line and they ring in because I’m an older woman.”

She said while sometimes the work is funny and interesting, it is mostly boring.

In the last fortnight she has made $84, which she has put towards her rent.

But she had no idea her conversation with the Prime Minister was going to go viral.

“I couldn’t believe that someone in charge of a country could look like that. It is really sleazy, it is as sleazy as some of the people who ring me up,” she said of Mr Abbott’s wink.

She said she is pleased the PM’s bat of an eyelid has received so much attention.

“I was a catalyst for him showing himself for what he is, which is sleazy and a misogynist.”

Her phone has been beeping incessantly since the drama with messages of congratulations from friends and family.

“I’ve received messages saying I was a warrior queen, go mum, you really stuck it at him.”

While the grandmother’s call to the Prime Minister has gone viral, Ms Power has not been able to view the #winkgate controversy because she does not have the internet at the moment. On Thursday she went to the local library in the hope of using one of their communal computers, but unfortunately they were all booked out by locals doing genealogy searches.

Ms Power said if former prime minister Julia Gillard was answering talkback calls she would have given her just as hard a time over her changes to the single parenting payment.

“It didn’t affect me personally but I thought it was a disgusting thing to do to vulnerable people.”

She suffered a heart attack around three years ago, has arthritis, and emphysema from years of smoking.

When asked to describe her financial situation, Ms Power says “it’s like walking along the edge of a precipice”.

She said she lives on $200 a week after rent and can never afford new clothes.

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

Deciphering the Fed’s alphabet soup

16/12/2018 // by admin

The US Federal Reserve has an alphabet soup of financing facilities and so for investors trying to understand what’s happening it’s like having a second language. But it is getting complicated.
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Prior to the global financial crisis the debate was normally over whether the economic recovery would be in the shape of a V, U, W or even a square root symbol, with some talk about a J-curve thrown in for good measure.

Then we got acronyms like QE (quantitative easing) and LTRO (long-term refinancing operations), as central banks became the dominant players in global financial markets, dictating all the ebbs and flows.

Now we have TDF, RRP and IOER. Or for those that aren’t bilingual, the term deposit facility, the reverse repurchase agreements and interest on excess reserves.

Those three acronyms just happen to be a large part of the latest strategy that the Fed has signalled it will use when it starts to get interest rates back to more normal levels.

Not that it’s going to happen anytime soon.

More information offered

But the latest minutes from this month’s meeting show that the members of the Federal Open Market Committee have all bases covered.

The FOMC even wants to give investors more information about how the Fed is going to dismantle its balance sheet that has blown out to more than $US4 trillion since the GFC.

The committee also want to make it very clear what happens when all the US Treasuries on the balance sheet mature and how the principal payments on MBS will be reinvested. That’s mortgage backed securities on the balance sheet.

The main message however was how the Fed, eventually, is going to get monetary policy back to normal when banks have trillions of dollars of excess reserves.

In the past, the Fed would just take away a small amount of those reserves and then rates would go up. But that’s not going to work in the world investors live in now.

That’s where TDF, RRP and IOER come into it.

All are new measures and no one is quite sure how they will work so the Fed will roadtest them before launching them, but if they have one thing in common it is all about giving the Fed more control over interest rates.

The Fed is about to embark on a program that enables the banks to park money with the bank for seven days, that’s the term deposit, at 0.25 per cent, which is at the top end of its current policy rate range.

This keeps the money away from the overnight market that dictates the Fed funds rate and is a way of soaking up the excess reserves.

The IOER right now pays 0.25 per cent so is a little sidelined by the seven day deal. Some analysts say the RRP is the better option for the Fed.

It, too, is a way of soaking up extra cash, but this time it’s not from the banks, but from government agencies such as Freddie Mac and Fannie May that have as much as $US24 billion in cash and money market funds, with $US2.6 trillion in assets, that can’t use the seven-day deals.

This money attracts a rate of 0.05 per cent.

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Iron ore slump weighs on rate rise expectations

16/12/2018 // by admin

The recent iron ore slump below $US100 a tonne, along with the sharp drop in consumer confidence, is casting doubt on consensus expectations that the next move by the Reserve Bank of Australia on interest rates will be a hike.
Nanjing Night Net

Last week, National Australia Bank was the last of the big four banks to call the end of the current rate cut cycle, which has seen the official cash rate drop 225 basis points since November 2011, to a record low of 2.5 per cent.

But, with iron ore slumping below $US100 per tonne for the first time in close to two years and consumer confidence plunging in the wake of the Federal Budget, that’s being questioned by some economists.

Markets are now pricing in a 17 per cent chance of a rate hike within the next 12 months. That’s down from a 50 per cent chance before the budget was presented last week, and from an 80 per cent chance in April.

“On the risks, iron ore at $US97.50 and little response from the Australian dollar has us thinking the risk of a rate cut over the next 12-18 months is now around the same as a rate hike,” Deutsche Bank chief economist Adam Boyton said.

In this scenario, unemployment could take a hit if iron ore was to remain at current levels for the rest of the year, instead peaking at around 6.5 per cent, rather 6.25 per cent, Mr Boyton said.

However, iron ore is expected to make a mild recovery and Deutsche Bank are forecasting to unemployment rate to be stuck between 5.75 per cent and 6.25 per cent.

“In our view we aren’t yet at the point where we’d include a rate cut in our forecasts off the back of the current iron ore price. Given, however, the post-Budget weakness in sentiment and the current weakness in iron ore; we remain comfortable with our ‘low for long’ cash rate view,” Mr Boyton said.

Most analysts expect iron ore to recover slightly in the second half, with Goldman Sachs, which is slightly more bearish than others, forecasting a price of $US105 per tonne in the September quarter and $US100 per tonne in the December quarter. Citi forecast an average price of $US100 per tonne for the rest of the calendar year.

However, both investment banks see heavy falls in the iron ore price in 2015

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