Mar 19

Sanbah owner Rhys Smith has bought a half share of Drift from founder and mate Robbie McNaughton

Bigger and better: Drift bike founders, from left, Sophie and Rhys Smith, and Alana and Robbie McNaughton. Picture: Jonathan CarrollIn 2003, Rhys Smith and Robbie McNaughton were both 21 and opening their own Newcastle familybusinesses, respectively Sanbah surf shop and Drift bike shop.

Strangers then, theirpathscrossed more than a decade later when competitive downhill mountain bikerand surfer McNaughtonpopped into Sanbah. A friendship grew and Mr Smith,son of Surfest founder Warren Smith, caught Mr McNaughton’s bike bug.

“If thesurf is one to two foot and rubbish which is more than half the year I canjump into Glenrockmountain bike park right next to the beach and get that same thrill,” Mr Smith says.

The thrills are continuing: nine weeks agohe accepted Mr McNaughton’s offer to buy a half share in Drift, just as a bigger retail site for Drift came up for leasein Northcott Avenue, Kotara,across the road from the first store.

Drift bikes has expanded into a bigger shop. Kotara. Pictured from left, Alana McNaughton, Rhys and Sophie Smith, Robbie McNaughton.

Drift version 2.0 is about diversification. Its stock has expanded from mainly mountain bikes to include road, recreational and kids bike plus ever-popular e-bikes. And far more.

Both men note the retail and brand synergy between surfing and biking, and Mr McNaughton appreciates his newpartner’s business nous: “Thesurf industry is ahead of the cycling industry, it’s more mature, and Rhys is at the top of his game,” he says.

Mr McNaughton believes the biking industry is closely following the surf industry’s retail stance to broaden its appeal.

“It’s the first time that lifestyle and bike shop has been combined properly [at Drift], and that’s across the country:it’s saying cyclists have an identity and continuing to sell hardware to them doesn’t allow that identity to grow,” he says.“We’ll be the first bike shop to sell Patagonia–we are bringinga highly technical product but itdoesn’t mean you have to own a bike to wear it.”

The old Drift store is now a bike workshop, with renovation plans afoot to ensure it offers a state-of-the-art service level.There are plans to more than double its mechanical staff, with a focus on training up local youth.

Mr McNaughton opened the original Drift with his wife, Alana, and Smith is supported by his wife Sophie.

Mar 19

Waterfront home in Sealand Road, Fishing Point attracts spread of interest ahead of auction

Luxury home in Fishing Point set for new mark LUXURY LIVING: Bidding for this home in Sealand Road, Fishing Point is expected to begin around $1.7 million when it goes under the hammer next week.

Bidding for this home in Sealand Road, Fishing Point is expected to begin around $1.7 million when it goes under the hammer next week.

Bidding for this home in Sealand Road, Fishing Point is expected to begin around $1.7 million when it goes under the hammer next week.

Bidding for this home in Sealand Road, Fishing Point is expected to begin around $1.7 million when it goes under the hammer next week.

Bidding for this home in Sealand Road, Fishing Point is expected to begin around $1.7 million when it goes under the hammer next week.

Bidding for this home in Sealand Road, Fishing Point is expected to begin around $1.7 million when it goes under the hammer next week.

Bidding for this home in Sealand Road, Fishing Point is expected to begin around $1.7 million when it goes under the hammer next week.

Bidding for this home in Sealand Road, Fishing Point is expected to begin around $1.7 million when it goes under the hammer next week.

TweetFacebook$1.051m result in Hamilton SouthThe sale of a tightly held home in Hamilton South’s Darling Street on July 21 exceeded expectations, according toAndrew McGavin of Dalton Partners.

The two-bedroom original home on a level block nearly 600 square metres in size had been in the same family for over 60 years.

Mr McGavin said a distinctive arch on the front verandah proved an attraction for potential buyers and most interest during the campaign came from young families.

There were five registered parties for the auction and an opening bid of $890,000. After 34 bids thehome was secured for $1.051 million.

This original two-bedroom home in Hamilton South’s Darling Street was secured at auction for $1.051 million.

Mar 19

Bernanke kicks of the Santa rally

The Santa rally in the sharemarket has arrived right on cue, a gift from the outgoing US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.David Potts: A Christmas boost for the market

Even our Reserve Bank will be celebrating – the dollar is already starting to crack. It dipped below US89 cents this morning.

But this also makes the prospect of another rate cut next year remote.

After months of hinting, which had kept markets on edge, the Fed has finally begun the taper.

It’s winding down by $US10 billion ($A11.2 billion) a month of its $US85 billion a month buy back of mainly government bonds which has had the effect of printing money and unintentionally flooded global financial markets with liquidity.

Although Wall Street has gone on to a record high since the taper was first mooted six months ago, it has hit commodity price dependent markets such as ours hard.

That’s because less money printing would pull the rug from under US dollar denominated commodity prices.

The taper will strengthen the US dollar and so drag down the value of the Australian dollar which will be music to the Reserve Bank’s ears.

But it had been feared that a more attractive US dollar backed by higher bond yields from the reduced monetary stimulus would create large outflows of capital from emerging markets.

Compounded by falling commodity prices this would also hurt our market.

But the unexpected twist in Bernanke’s statement was that near zero official interest rates would remain well beyond unemployment falling below 6.5 per cent.

It’s currently 7 per cent and on the Fed’s forecasts a drop below 6.5 per cent won’t happen until 2015.

This will continue to underpin Wall Street where the biggest threat would be a sudden rise in bond yields as the taper continues.

The decision was just the spark needed to get the Santa rally going.

This is a well known, but never satisfactorily explained, tendency for the sharemarket to rise in the five trading days before Christmas and first two of the new year.

As a result December has on average been the best single month for the sharemarket for 70 years.

In the past 50 years the market has risen in December 39 times in 50 years.

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Mar 19

How to take a photo inside looking out

Clever effect: Capturing the interior and exterior requires some finesse. Photo: Peter BennettsLast week we had an inquiry from a reader with a photographic project problem. She wants to take photographs of rooms in a house and she wants the interior and the exterior, seen through the windows, to all be correctly exposed. She has seen such pictures in magazines and real-estate advertisements and wants to know how it is done.

The effect is achieved by HDR (high dynamic range) processing, which works like this. Using the ”bracket” and ”burst” functions, usually found in the menus, the camera takes a bracket of three or more images at different exposures. By capturing images that are underexposed and overexposed, the details in shadow and highlight areas are preserved in the set, rather than in a single image. The set of images is then merged into one on a computer and the entire dynamic range is compressed into the single picture. For this we use an HDR processing application.

For Windows, we use Oloneo HDR Engine, but our inquirer is a Mac person, so we tried several HDR applications for the Mac, ranging in price from free to $130, along with the one built into Photoshop.

The one we like best is HDR Expose3 ($US119 from unifiedcolor苏州美甲美睫培训学校). This produces fine, natural-looking merged images. The interface may be overwhelming at first, but with a little use, it is simple enough to master. A good user manual in PDF comes with the program when it is downloaded. This is much better than having to go backwards and forwards to the Help menu.

The HDR effect presets make adjustment easy. Select the Optimal tone mapping preset and the job is almost done automatically. Fine adjustments to tone and colour can be made in the application itself. A little finishing in iPhoto or Aperture brings out the best in the pictures.

HDR Expose3 is also available for Windows and there is a free trial version.

We couldn’t find a satisfactory free HDR processing app but, with the help of a Mac friend, we did find Bracketeer, ($20.99 from the App Store). Bracketeer produces the best results when it is working with as many images as possible. A tripod is recommended, although Bracketeer does a reasonable job of auto-aligning hand-held exposures. The best way to learn the app is to use it and fiddle with the arcane settings. You can’t break it.

With Bracketeer, you must pay the money before it will do anything. As always, you get what you pay for. HDR Expose3 is worth the extra $100, but only if you intend to use it a lot.

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Mar 19

Manus Island detainees in sex video, PNG MP claims

Papua New Guinean MP for Manus Island, Ronny Knight. Photo: FacebookA Papua New Guinean politician says asylum seekers detained on Manus Island have appeared in a pornographic film with local girls.

The island’s outspoken MP, Ronny Knight, says the detention centre is ”out of control” and he will show the clip to Australian officials.

He published the allegation on Facebook, and it has since been shared widely in the community.

However, the company that manages the centre, G4S, says it has seen no evidence to back his claim and urged Mr Knight to speak to police.

The MP used the social network to allege that detainees and young Papuans were filmed while engaged in sexual acts.

”I just viewed a shocking phone video of the XXX-rated type featuring asylum seekers in the camp and young Manus girls working there!” he wrote.

”I am going to take this clip to the Australian high commission and show how out of control G4S has allowed these people to become! This clip is truly sickening.”

The high commission had not been contacted by Mr Knight as of Wednesday.

The son of a former Australian naval officer who settled in PNG, the MP is a regular critic of the immigration centre and the British-based company that runs it.

He initially supported Australia’s decision to invest in the centre, but he raised concerns in November that drunk foreign guards at the centre were harassing local women.

Mr Knight has previously called for the centre to be shut down because it awarded work mostly to Australian, not PNG, businesses.

In a statement on Wednesday, G4S asked Mr Knight to take the alleged video to the police immediately:

”G4S will co-operate fully with PNG authorities in any investigation,” it said.

”G4S was not previously aware of these allegations. We are very concerned by the seriousness of Mr Knight’s latest allegations.”

The company said its highest concern was its duty of care to asylum seekers and staff.

The Manus Island centre holds more than 1100 detainees.

Last week, human rights group Amnesty International labelled conditions at the centre ”shameful”.

Its report, This Is Breaking People, says one overcrowded dormitory violates the United Nations convention against torture.

Asylum seekers told Amnesty they were denied drinking water and spoke of ”verbal and physical abuse by staff, including being kicked, punched and shoved”.

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Mar 19

US Fed taper decision to spur ASX higher

The Australian market looks set to open higher after the Federal Reserve said it would reduce its monthly bond buying program in the new year.

What you need2know:SPI futures up 41 points.AUD fetching 88.49 US cents, 92.10 yen, 64.62 euro cents, 53.98 penceOn Wall St, S&P500 +1.5%, Dow Jones +1.8%, Nasdaq +1.2%In Europe, Eurostoxx +1.1%, FTSE100 +0.1%, CAC +1%, DAX +1.1%Spot gold jumps 0.3% to $US1235.50 an ounceBrent oil rises 0.9% to $US109.39 per barrelIron ore slips 0.7% to $US133.40 per tonne

What’s on today

The Reserve Bank is set to release foreign exchange transactions data for November.

Stocks to watch

JPMorgan has lowered its target price on Insurance Australia Group to $5.60 from $5.80 amid concerns about its acquisition of Wesfarmers’s insurance arm.

Deutsche Bank has a “hold” rating on REA Group which announced the resignation of its chief executive.


The Australian dollar traded violently and briefly fell to its lowest levels in more than three years as the US Federal Reserve started a wind-back of its unprecedented stimulus program, which has supported the currency.

The local dollar fell to as low as 88.19 US cents just before the Fed’s announcement this morning, before jumping more than a cent to 89.45 US cents. It was buying 89.23 US cents about 6.30am.


Copper has fallen, slipping further from near two-month highs hit this week. Zinc, however, touched a nine-month high after news emerged this week of a market deficit. “Zinc looks quite constructive on the charts and is poised to break out above a three-month trading range should it take out resistance at $US2010 decisively,” said analyst Edward Meir at INTL FCStone.

United States

US stocks jumped to record highs after the Federal Reserve announced a winding back of its stimulus program.

US housing starts in November surged to their highest level in nearly six years as they jumped 22.7 per cent in their biggest gain since January 1990, the Commerce Department said.

A federal judge said Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and dozens of banks must face a lawsuit accusing the social media company of misleading investors about its financial condition before its $US16 billion initial public offering last year.


European shares advanced on Wednesday, more than recouping the previous session’s losses. However markets closed prior to the US Fed announcement.

London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index ended the day up 0.09 per cent at 6492.08 points. Frankfurt’s DAX 30 rose 1.06 per cent to 9181.75 points and the CAC 40 in Paris climbed 1.0 per cent to 4109.51 points.

German business morale hit its highest level since April 2012 in December, the think tank Ifo reported. This was in line with expectations, but another sign that growth in Europe’s largest economy may accelerate next year.

What happened yesterday

On Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dipped 6.2 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 5097. Telecommunications was the best-performing sector, up 0.4 per cent, as Telstra Corporation rose 0.4 per cent to $5.04. The dominant telco is refusing to reveal its asking price to sell a legacy copper network to NBN Co.

“The local market has been hurt by a string of downgrades over the past six weeks,” Morgans private client adviser Alistair McCorquodale said. “The QBE downgrade had the biggest direct impact, but downgrades from smaller companies, of which Wotif is the latest, also create uncertainty.”

Financial Review and Reuters

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Mar 19

Discord: Cronulla Sharks should not be forced to relocate

It’s not so much the number of zeros on Cronulla’s $1 million doping fine, but how long the Sharks have to pay it.

That’s why the club’s supporters should be welcoming reports Cronulla ‘only’ have to shell out $200,000 a year over the next half-decade.

We’ve already said here that it would be immoral for Cronulla to be forced into relocating by the financial penalty from the supplements scandal. Endangering the health of players is too serious a matter for it to play any role in a competition’s decentralisation and expansion strategies.

It’s in everyone’s interests to keep the matters completely separate. If Cronulla or anyone else have to move, then so be it – but not because they have been financially crippled by a sanction from headquarters.

If reports of the Sharks being given five years to pay their fine are correct, the NRL Commission has done the right thing in this regard.

Some will say it’s just tough luck if a financial penalty sends a franchise broke and relocation is its only help of survival. But for a start, we don’t know if the NRL has an incentives at all on the table any more for relocation.

And is the end of a club that entered the premiership in 1967 a fair punishment for a doping offence committed over a comparatively short period in 2011?

Only a harsh bastard would say ‘yes’.


Great result to see the New Zealand-England World Cup semi-final named the greatest moment at Wembley Stadium this year, beating the FA Cup final and Bruce Springsteen.

The Kiwis’ last-ditch victory was the best game I’ve seen this year and plenty agree. With a bit of a nudge from Red Hall, the event won by popular vote.

“The drama of the Rugby League World Cup semi-final certainly befitted the occasion, so it is right to commemorate the match with a Wembley Way stone,” said stadium managing director Roger Maslin.


There are those who steadfastly refuse to believe that the salary cap has anything to do with the evenness of a competition that has given us nine premiers in 15 years.

But the departure of salary cap commissioner Ian Schubert, the sudden rise in the cap and looming relaxation of rules around the payment ceiling will give us an almost scientific analysis of its importance.

It should be pretty easy to tell if the league is more or less even now than it was before. Schubert was given absolute discretion in a less well-resourced era of the NRL and in the opinion of this column did an exceptional job – even if clubs didn’t like many of his decisions.

You can put an appeal process in place and throw more people at the job but if we get lopsided competition tables in the years ahead, then ‘Schuey’ will be missed.

Ian Schubert’s legacy as salary cap commissioner will be crystal clear in another 15 years.


Comments now and there was some discussion on the sense, or lack thereof, of the NRL attempting to extend its influence into London.

PaulMac, BluesBreaker and Old John all agreed playing games in London is a good idea, but doubted our sport could fill Wembley with an Origin or club game.

Old John points to rugby union’s Crusaders playing a Super Rugby game in the capital and attracting a healthy crowd.

The beauty of the geography is that whatever the NRL does in London does not unduly step on the toes of Super League, in which most of the teams are along the M62 corridor.

Eventually, we could even have an NRL team based in London while the domestic competition goes ahead unhindered up north. I know, it’s a long way off, but…

Here’s the forum.

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Mar 19

NBN’s modest proposal

Only one-quarter of Australian homes and businesses will receive a fibre-to-the-premises connection under the government’s revised national broadband network (NBN) plan.

The NBN initially aimed to connect 93 per cent of Australian premises directly to the fibre network, but this target was scrapped by the Abbott government as part of a promised strategic review of the NBN project.

The new ”multi-technology” NBN model, unveiled by Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull, will continue to rely on the copper and hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) networks to service most Australian premises. These networks were scheduled to be decommissioned under the previous national fibre-to-the-premises plan.

The NBN will now use fibre-to-the-node to reach at least 40 per cent of premises, relying on the existing copper telephone lines to cover the final few hundred metres of the connection. Of the remaining premises, about 25 per cent will receive broadband via direct fibre, 28 per cent via HFC cable and 7 per cent in remote areas via fixed-wireless or satellite.

The revised NBN model fails to meet the Coalition’s election promise to provide a minimum download speed of 25 Mbps to all Australian premises by the end of 2016. Instead, the new plan says that only half of premises will have access to at least 25 Mbps download speeds by the end of 2016.

By the end of 2019, 91 per cent of premises are expected to have access to download speeds of at least 50 Mbps. At least two-thirds of these are likely to receive the 100 Mbps download speeds which would have been provided by a national fibre-to-the-premises network. The revised plan makes no commitment on upload speeds.

The NBN is now expected to be completed by 2021 and will cost about $41 billion, with the Coalition’s review claiming the fibre-to-the-premises network would have cost $73 billion and taken until 2024 to complete.

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