Sep 18

Perth International gets international support from Emirates airline

Jin Jeong of Korea tees off on the 3rd hole during day three of the Perth International at Lake Karrinyup Country Club on October 19, 2013 in Perth, Australia. Photo: Paul KaneThe Perth International golf tournament received a massive boost on Wednesday with Emirates airline announcing its support for the event.

Emirates has added an additional 10 tournaments from the European Tour to the list of tournaments that it already sponsors, until the end of the 2017 season.

As part of the agreement, the airline becomes a worldwide partner and official airline of the European Tour.

Along with its existing nine European Tour golf events culminating to the prestigious DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, Emirates will add the BMW PGA Championship, the Nordea Masters, the D+D Real Czech Masters, the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, the Portugal Masters, the Italian Open, the Joburg Open, the South Africa Open Championship, the Nelson Mandela Championship and the Perth International to its stable.

Nigel Hopkins, executive vice president service departments, Emirates Group and George O’Grady, CEO of the European Tour, made the announcement on Wednesday morning during a press conference in London.

“Golf is one of the most popular sports in the world, and as a global sponsorship platform it has been immensely successful for us. Emirates’ increased investment in the European Tour is a natural move which will expand our global reach to golf enthusiasts across Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia,” Mr Hopkins said.

“Engaging with our customers and fans through sports has been part of Emirates’ brand strategy since our early days. It makes sense for us – as an airline that connects the world – to align our brand with prestigious golf tournaments where the world’s most talented players come together.”

The addition of the Perth International, which will be held in October 2014, extends the airline’s support for the sport in Australia, which includes Queensland’s PGA Championship and the Emirates Australian Open.

Mr O’Grady said the increased investment would give the European Tour the confidence to support tournaments globally, enhancing not only its widespread geographical footprint but also the development of its business in new markets across the world.

“(It’s) a strategy that we at the European Tour share with Emirates. We have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with Dubai for the past 25 years and today’s announcement is the perfect way for us to launch the beginning of the next phase of our partnership” continued O’Grady.

As a leading supporter of major golf tournaments across the globe, Emirates is the official airline of 24 golf events worldwide.

Beyond its commitment to 19 European Tour events, Emirates also sponsors the Thailand Open (Thailand-One Asian Tour), the Emirates Australian Open, the Australian PGA Championship (Australia-Australasian Tour), the Indonesia PGA Championships (One-Asia Tour) and the Boeing Classic (USA) on the PGA Champions Tour in the United States.

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Sep 18

Matt Joyce returns home after Dubai ordeal

‘Enormously difficult’ ordeal: Matt Joyce with his family. Photo: SuppliedAfter five years trapped in Dubai on fraud charges, Matt Joyce has flown home with his surfboard – itching for a wave – but also to confront questions about millions paid into a Channel Islands bank account and how he paid for a farm in Victoria while he was fighting to prove his innocence.

“It’s been dealt with by seven judges across three courts across two countries,” Mr Joyce told a news conference on Wednesday after landing at Melbourne Airport. “There’ve been six audits and it’s all been transparently resolved and our innocence established.”

Mr Joyce arrived to a media scrum as he wheeled his luggage and surfboard through the airport. Eager that he and wife Angela Higgins and their three children rebuild their lives, he said: “We are now safely home in Australia”.

This follows his sudden acquittal last month on property fraud charges, for which he had been sentenced to 10 years’ jail and received a $25 million fine. The Dubai Court of Appeal also upheld the acquittal of his former colleague Marcus Lee, who expects to return home with his wife, Julie, in January. They have been delayed by the red tape involved in getting their Yorkshire terrier, Dudley, cleared of rabies so her can fly with them.

Mr Joyce had been accused of receiving about $US6 million for his share in a plot to swindle Australian developer Sunland out of more than $US12 million in a land sale on Dubai Waterfront, where he was managing director.

The Dubai Court of Appeal finally rejected Sunland’s claim – as had judges in Australia – that Mr Joyce and his Geelong Grammar schoolmate Angus Reed had duped the company into believing Mr Reed’s company, Prudentia, had development rights over a plot called D17.

The court also found no link could be established between D17 and money transferred from Prudentia to Mr Joyce.

Mr Joyce was asked at his news conference how he paid almost $6 million for a farm called Pardoo, in the western districts of Victoria, a deal which began a month before his arrest, in December 2008, and was settled in August the next year.

“That farm was paid for by the sale of two properties in Sydney, [as] established by the courts and audits,” Mr Joyce said. Pressed on whether those properties were sold to a Joyce family trust, he agreed they were sold to “ourselves”.

The Joyce team rejects any suggestion he bought the farm with the proceeds of the D17 deal.

Regarding money paid into his family’s Eightblue trust in Jersey, the team says the money was held for Prudentia. Independent audits showed all but $1.25 million – owed to Mr Joyce for work he had performed for Prudentia on the Croydon Golf Course in Victoria – was returned to the firm, and this was accepted by the courts. ($7,191,000 was returned to Prudentia.)

Justice Clyde Croft, in a parallel civil case in the Victorian Supreme Court, found Sunland acted “in wilful disregard of known facts” and for an “ulterior purpose”, and it was willing to “unjustifiably” implicate Mr Joyce.

Ms Higgins said the affect on the whole family was devastating but it was “profoundly devastating for Matt to be innocent and to have to stand your ground for all those years. Occasionally we gave in but we never gave up, and we new the truth would prevail.”

Mr Joyce thanked his legal team, Liberal senator Helen Kroger, former prime minister Malcolm Fraser and – while he could not say how much a recent intervention by Prime Minister Tony Abbott had helped – he was grateful for that and the diplomatic effort. He would not comment on the difference between the effort made between the Abbott and former Labor government.

“I’d also like to thank the people who have been by my side,” Mr Joyce said. “That’s my amazing wife, Ange, and my precious children.”

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Sep 18

Fed will take ‘baby steps’ to ease taper shock, say economists

Any change in monetary policy settings by the United States Federal Reserve will probably take the least intrusive shape possible to avoid creating market shocks, if and when there is a reduction in monetary stimulus.

Economists are speculating whether the central bank will wind-back its $US3 trillion-plus stimulus program at the last meeting of the year in Washington, concluding Thursday local time.

A decision to taper will send a firm message that the world’s biggest economy is truly in recovery after five years of intense Fed support. But some experts still say there’s no way “tapering” won’t be received as bad news for investors.

Severe measures can be all but ruled out, economists say, as protecting financial stability plays an increasing role in the Fed’s thinking. When outgoing Fed chairman Ben Bernanke first signalled the reduction of stimulus in May global markets were wiped out and the ASX 200 alone lost more than 100 points in the following session. And when traders wrongly guessed the taper was coming in September stocks surged in response to the Fed’s decision to keep stimulus intact.Baby steps

Commonwealth Bank of Australia chief economist Michael Blythe foreshadowed a “baby steps” approach when the Fed finally makes its move. “The Fed has spent a lot of time preparing people for this move but equally there’s still a degree of uncertainty about the US recovery and the last thing you want to do is choke that off prematurely,” he said. Mr Blythe anticipates an initial reduction of around $US5 billion to $US10 billion from the $US85 billion in monthly bond purchases dictated by current policy settings.

“What you’ll probably see is a bit of forward guidance stressing that interest rates are going to remain low. The worst outcome for them in a sense is that if the market starts pricing in rate rises,” he added.

Perpetual’s head of investment strategy, Matthew Sherwood, suggested three approaches the Fed could take with the taper to keep markets in check. Besides ramping up its forward guidance, and therefore “anchor expectations” for the Fed funds rates going forward, “they’re probably going to reduce the interest rate they pay on the excess reserves held at the Fed,” Mr Sherwood said. “That would again lead to an easing in financial conditions at the short end of the curve.”

He also alluded to the Fed avoiding backing intself into a timetable for the withdrawal of stimulus to retain its flexibility.

“The big thing about the decision is they don’t want to tighten financial conditions in the US,” said Mr Sherwood, who correctly predicted no taper in September.

Bank of America-Merrill Lynch economists came up with three scenarios for the December 17-18 meeting: no taper; taper; and tapering with stronger forward guidance. UBS economists think the Fed will wait until January because US inflation is low but in the event of any move the bank suggested the US dollar would be poised to benefit.

Credit Suisse strategist Damien Boey stressed that the impact would come down to the reaction in bond markets which will have consequences for the cost of borrowing among Americans. He likened tapering to a rate hike and said: “The real question is whether or not the Fed can actually control bond yields from here… Nobody really has answered that.”

Mr Boey described the Fed’s quantitative easing as a kind of social contract where the central bank assures individuals “you can afford to lever up, there’s no problem with that” through the promise of low rates. “Historically American households have borrowed on a 30-year fixed mortgage and post GFC we’ve really gone back to that regime.”

He rated the chance of a reduction in stimulus at the December meeting as better than 50 per cent. “It’s very hard to argue that tapering will be a good thing for the market.”

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Sep 18

Bill Vlahos claims The Edge owes him $32m

Bill Vlahos claims The Edge has owed him money since 2005.The operator of failed punting club The Edge, Bill Vlahos, claims it owes him $32 million.

Mr Vlahos, who declared bankruptcy on Monday night, also claims to have just $6200 in the bank and owe $26.5 million to a group of investors in The Edge.

Fraud squad police and racing authorities are investigating The Edge and Mr Vlahos’ racing operation, BC3 Thoroughbreds, which has also collapsed.

Paper losses in the betting club are estimated to hit $500 million, but the actual amount of money invested by punters is as yet unknown.

Mr Vlahos has given a list of assets and liabilities in a statement of affairs signed on Sunday and filed with bankruptcy regulator the Australian Financial Security Authority.

In the statement, he claimed the punting club has owed him the money since 2005.

He said he owed $46,000 on credit cards with Westpac and the Commonwealth Bank and an additional $100,000 to the Tax Office.

Among his assets, he listed a $10 million loan to BC3, his $1.2 million home in Torquay, which is held in his wife’s name, and BC3’s thoroughbred facility at Connewarre, on the Surf Coast.

He valued the Connewarre facility, held by his Noble Edict Investment Trust, at between $2.5 million and $3 million.

Early last week at the Connewarre property a car was set on fire and Mr Vlahos was allegedly assaulted.

Mr Vlahos said the Noble Edict trust pays him annual distributions, with the last, of $100,000, received in July.

He also listed as assets two racehorses, of unknown value, one of which is at the stables of trainer David Hayes. He says he does not know the location of the other horse.

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Sep 18

Step closer for ACT’s sustainable city farm

Gavin Williams’ well-fed chooks. Photo: Melissa Adams Firm favourite … Gavin Williams and Missy with a tromboncino zucchini, raised from seed, that has been planted in a bale of pea straw. Photo: Melissa Adams

It is good to end 2013 with a food proposal for the New Year. Gavin Williams is secretary of Canberra City Farm and is working with the ACT government to find a site to start the city farm project in 2014.

Two years ago, my godson, Duncan Sheil, and his family, who live in the hills behind Brisbane, took his mother and me on a Sunday visit to Northey Street City Farm in suburban Windsor. We wandered around the organic community kitchen garden, looked at the chook Hilton, watched papermaking, bought local strawberries and Montville coffee from food stalls in an outdoor market and indigenous plants from an onsite nursery, and joined the children in a play area where there was a sand pit, and swings hanging from tree branches.

This is the model Williams wants to create in Canberra, though his ideal is Ceres, a city farm in Melbourne since the 1980s, about which he spoke at the Food Security Mini Expo held in Canberra in November, hosted by See Change and Fusion Horticulture.

Canberra City Farm is a not-for-profit group focused on responsible food production and sustainable cities. It is a hub for connecting farmers, food producers and urban people.

The group was behind the Floriade urban food garden this year (an Urban Agriculture Australia project, uaa.org.au), which showed 25 technologies, including improvised vertical planting systems, composting methods, aquaculture and keeping chooks.

Costa Georgiadis, of Gardening Australia, was so taken with the garden that he joined a roster to volunteer there.

At home in Rivett, Gavin Williams, wife Kate Eversteyn and their three children have a large hen house with eight chickens of four varieties – australorp, hy-line, light sussex and plymouth rock. The chook run is bordered with dorato d’asti celery, which is allowed to go to seed, and fruit trees – plum, apricot, apple, citrus and pomegranate. Williams created different levels in the sloping garden to prevent rain run-off.

He has raised seedlings of pumpkins, cucumbers, eggplants, heirloom varieties of eggplants from Diggers – Italian striped listada di gandia and round white rosa bianca. He also has Lebanese cucumbers, beans to be dried for soups, including borlotti, haricot and red kidney, heirloom tomatoes and Christmas grape tomatoes, corn, capsicums and his favourite zucchini, tromboncino. He has planted vegetables into bales of pea straw that make a dividing wall next to the children’s play area. He also raised seedlings for the Canberra City Farm stall at the night market organised by the Canberra Environment Centre on December 6.

They have built a pizza oven in their back garden for this season of celebration and have a wide variety of herbs for the pizzas – oregano, sage, basil, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, chives, coriander, mint and Vietnamese mint. One garden bed is devoted to potatoes and garlic, with lettuce, rocket, spinach and spring onions for the salad bowl. Their favourite pizza recipe (see panel, left) is from The Margaret Fulton Cookbook (1968, revised 2004).

> Susan Parsons is a Canberra writer.

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