Melbourne weather: Temperature plunges as storm lashes state

Stony creek backwash (under Westgate Bridge) looking back towards Coode Island. Storm hits Melbourne’s CBD.

A fierce storm battered parts of the state on Tuesday night, with large hailstones the size of golf balls pelting Melbourne’s south-east.

Wild winds, thunderstorms, heavy rain and giant hailstones began lashing the city just before 8pm, with reports of flash flooding across Melbourne.

The Bureau of Meteorology said three to four centimetres of hail pelted Nunawading, East Doncaster and Templestowe.

Lights went out on late night Christmas shoppers at Highpoint Shopping Centre in Melbourne’s west as rain started poured in from the ceiling.

Dangerous thunderstorms, damaging winds and large hailstones were detected on the weather radar near Craigieburn, Greensborough and Preston, with severe thunderstormsdetected near Dandenong, Glen Waverley and Kilmore.

Just before 11pm, Warrigal Road was closed in both directions between Canterbury and Riversdale roads due to a landslide, according to VicRoads.

Drivers are being urged to avoid the area and it remains unclear when the road will be reopened.

A severe windstorm has also brought down trees and powerlines across the North East and Hume Region.

VicEmergency has warned travel is “very dangerous” in these areas due to a number of trees and powerlines down and traffic light outages.

Earlier, VicRoads advised motorists to avoid travel in fierce weather conditions.

Nick Addison was inside his house in Templestowe watching the freak thunderstorm with his four-year-old daughter when they heard a deafening sound outside.

“We’re were just looking up at the lightning across the sky then all of a sudden we heard this pretty loud banging and kept going so we went out the front to take a look,” he said.

“There were huge hailstones everywhere…. I picked a few of them up and they were easily golf ball-size.”

Mr Addison said his car was protected under a double garage, but friends and family living nearby in Templestowe weren’t so lucky.

“I know my friend’s car has copped a fair bit of damage and hailstones just pelted through my parents’ pergola,” he said.

“I’d imagine there is plenty of damage out there tonight.”

Melbourne Airport warned some flights may be delayed due to the weather, with a spokeswoman confirming the airport was operating on a single runway on Tuesday evening.

The airport also urged travellersto check with the airlines they were flying with for updates on delays.

The State Emergency Service has responded to more than 1600 call-outs across the state, with the bulk of requests for help coming from regional areas including Mildura, Swan Hill, Kilmore and Shepparton.

The SES has also been inundatedwith calls for help from the Manningham municipalitywhich encompasses Doncaster, Templestowe, Donvale, Bulleen, Warrandyte and Wonga Park.

“Most of these calls have been for assistance with trees down over roads, fallen powerlines and building damage,” a State Control Centre spokeswoman said.

“There are also reports of large hail stones falling in some areas, thunderstoms and damaging winds as the storm moves from central Victoria to the east of the state and into Melbourne.”

An estimated 100,000 Victorians are currently without power, according to the SES.

It remains unknown when power will be restored.

The bureau has also warned another wild storm front may affect areas including Bendigo, Shepparton, Seymour, Wodonga, Wangaratta, Traralgon and Bairnsdale.Hey @Mick_Fanning, sweet surf on Swan St in Melbourne if you wanna grab your board and join me ???? pic.twitter南京夜网/J220S4jRlh??? Andy Lee (@andy_lee) December 19, 2017Check out this hail holy shit #melbourneweatherpic.twitter南京夜网/TQxlQ0pzvS??? ???? jayde ???? (@lostravenclaw) December 19, 2017Hails stones far wider than my skinny hands pic.twitter南京夜网/NCyKbswkPU??? Stephen Mayne (@MayneReport) December 19, 2017#melbweather mega storm that flew over Tullamarine plus the part where the door slammed behind me and I literally jumped pic.twitter南京夜网/EWrMYZbnIg??? Anthony Farrell (@AnthoBuzzTV) December 19, 2017Hailstones on the aluminium roof sounded like gunshots! Crazy scenes! #vicstormspic.twitter南京夜网/Gra1GPFlmM??? kenners (@dankennedy81) December 19, 2017And another violent storm dumping heavy ????on mildura. Lawns going to look good for backyard cricket Christmas Day. pic.twitter南京夜网/E2odO8pdIB??? Michael Moodie (@Moodie_ag) December 19, 2017#Victoria thunderstorm outlook. Analysis shows potential for severe #storms in central areas (including #Melbourne) during the afternoon, extending eastward later. Heavy rain, large hail and damaging gusts are a risk. All forecasts available via南京夜网/pSasZDaziu??? Bureau of Meteorology, Victoria (@BOM_Vic) December 19, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

This Christmas, Eric Abetz is making a list

Senator Eric Abetz. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Public service emails could be the next front in a battle over “political correctness” after hardline Coalition senator Eric Abetz asked agencies to disclose their holiday staff greetings.

Government agencies are releasing Christmas and Easter messages from departmental bosses to the bureaucracy for the former public service minister, known for his ardent Christian views and social conservatism.

Senator Abetz has come under fire from the Greens and public policy experts, who said he was wasting the time of agencies that should be allowed to focus on delivering services.

But the Liberal Senate backbencher said people had a right to know the extent of “the infiltration of a political correctness agenda in the public service” that repudiated Australia’s long-held traditions.

Senator Eric Abetz. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

He has asked more than 80 agencies to release their Christmas, Easter and Ramadan messages.

Department heads in greetings disclosed to the Senate commonly wish their staff a merry Christmas and eschew greetings of “happy holidays” despised by socially conservative critics.

Home Affairs department secretary Michael Pezzullo, writing then as Immigration boss, former Defence secretary Dennis Richardson, and ex-Human Services secretary Kathryn Campbell in 2016 all gave the traditional greeting.

Agency bosses also commonly wished their staff a “happy Easter”.

Debate over Christmas messages moved to social media after Tasmanian Greens senator Nick McKim posted on Facebook a tongue-in-cheek photo showing a banner wishing a “merry nondenominational seasonal festivity”, in a dig at Senator Abetz.

Senator McKim said the questions from the conservative backbencher showed Christmas messages had become his new obsession after losing the debate over same-sex marriage.

“This is just Eric Abetz fighting imaginary enemies,” he said.

“Public servants have better things to do than answer idiotic questions on notice.

“Heads of government agencies are well entitled to send celebratory messages to their staff without having to worry what the right wing culture warriors think about it.”

ANU Crawford School of Public Policy director Helen Sullivan said Senator Abetz’s questions were a ridiculous waste of time for public servants.

“They’ve got more important things to worry about than checking on how people are being greeted,” she said.

“Of the great range of things Senator Abetz could be dealing with, I don’t think this is a particularly important one.”

The public service represented all Australians, and this should be reflected in both their holiday messages and their broader work, Professor Sullivan said.

“The APS should not be used as a political football. It’s not there for the purposes of people to argue their political differences or to be a new front in the culture war.”

Senator Abetz said his questions were very easily answered and included no impost.

“I am pleased to see that, so far, most agencies have no qualms in celebrating Easter and Christmas,” he said.

The senator, who presided over the Coalition’s hiring freeze and 15,000 job losses, has remained vocal about his views on how the government should manage the public service, calling twice in 2017 for more massive cuts to its headcount.

Follow Doug Dingwall on Twitter.

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

NRL: Brock Lamb among three Knights in Emerging Blues squad

IN THE FRAME: Brock Lamb has been named in a 38-man Emerging Blues squad. Picture: Marina Neil

BROCK Lamb may be set to play a back-up role at the Newcastle Knights but the halfback remains in the mind of NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler

Lamb and fellow Knights Daniel Safiti and Connor Watson were on Tuesday selected in a 38-man Emerging Blues squad.

The squad, which includes established stars Mitchell Moses, Nathan Cleary, Latrell Mitchell and Angus Crichton,will attend a camp in Sydney on January 13.

Fittler and assistant coach Danny Buderus will be joined by former Blues Andrew Johns, Craig Fitzgibbon, Matt King, Mark O’Meley and Anthony Minichiello in specialist positional coaching roles.

“I’ve brought these players in because they’re players I really respect and I believe they can learn a lot from the camp – both on and off the field,” Fittler said.“The majority of theplayers are young stars already playing first grade, or on their way to the top grade.These players will be the backbone of the NSW Origin team going forward. We’re hoping they get a lot from the Emerging Blues camp, about expectations, and learning from some of NSW Origin’s best former players, who I have played with and really respect.”

Lambstarted in 21 games for the Knights last season and was a finalist for the Dally M rookie of the year.

However, the 20-year-old’s future has been cloudedsince the Knights won the race to secure MitchellPearce’s signature.Lambhad been all set to start next season at halfback alongside Roosters recruit Connor Watson but is most likely to start the season on the bench or in NSW Cup.

Emerging Blues:Payne Haas,Tevita Pengai Jr, Michael Lichaa (Brisbane),Nick Cotric (Canberra),

Jayden Brailey,Kyle Flanagan,Jessie Ramien (Cronulla Sharks),Lachlan Croker,Jack Gosiewski,Brian Kelly,Luke Metcalf (Manly), Curtis Scott (Melbourne),Brock Lamb,Daniel Saifiti,Connor Watson (Newcastle),Nathan Cleary,Dylan Edwards,Moses Leota (Penrith),Bevan French,Tepai Moeroa,Mitchell Moses, Kyle Schneider (Parramatta), Jake Hazard, Latrell Mitchell, Victor Radley (Sydney Roosters),Angus Crichton,Tyrell Fuimanu,Campbell Graham,Cam Murray (South Sydney),Matt Dufty, Jai Field, Zac Lomax,Reece Robson,Hame Sele (St George Illawarra),JacobLiddle,Bayley Sironen,Moses Suli,Alex Twal (Wests Tigers)

Centenary of the Great War

DESERT CHRISTMAS: Time away from fighting was a treasured break for these lighthorsemen. Photo: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony.Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for December 17-23, 1917.

HONOUR ROLLThe ceremony of unveiling the roll of honour containing the names of members of the Merewether school of arts who volunteered to serve the Empire, took place on Saturday, in the presence of a large number of residents. Mrs E.A.M Merewether stated it was with pleasure that she acceded to the request of the committee of management to be present with them that day. She trusted that the war would soon be over, but if necessity demanded that further sacrifice should be made to bring the Allies to victory, she would like to see the tablets on the monument filled with the names of brave volunteers. She then touched a cord, and the Union Jack fell away, disclosing a structure some eight feet high, on which were engraved 19 names. One tablet bore the following inscription: “Erected in honour of our heroes, who answered their country’s call, and fought in the great war, 1914, unveiled 15th December, 1917, by Mrs E.A.M Merewether.” Mr A Edden, MP, paid a tribute to the members who had gone to the front. Personally he had no time for shirkers. He knows the heart burnings of mothers and wives of the gallant fellows who were today doing all they could to uphold their country’s honour. Alderman Wells, the Mayor, complimented the school of arts committee for erecting such a fine structure to the memory of their members, and suggested that one grand monument should be erected in some conspicuous place within the municipality in honour of all the young men who had gone forth from Merewether. The Rev. Mr Reid addressed the gathering at some length.

WIRELESS TRAINING SCHOOLMen are urgently required for training in the Wireless Training School in Sydney. Vacanciesexist for fitters and turners, instrument makers and repairers, electricians, electrical mechanics, linemen, telegraphists, wireless operators and drivers, while watchmakers are very urgently required. Full particulars as to rates of pay, etc., may be had on application, either personally or by letter, to the O.C., Wireless Training School, Moore Park. Applicants should furnish full particulars of their experience, and produce copies of any credentials they may hold.

POLLING BOOTH RULESInstructions have been issued by the District Commandant to commanding officers, and all concerned, as follows: The responsibility for the maintenance of order in and around the polling booths on referendum day, December 20th, rests with the civil authorities, but the following instructions must be issued to all troops. (1) As far as practicable arrangements will be made for all soldiers in camps to record their votes in camp.(2) Instructions must be issued that no soldiers in uniform must loiter in the vicinity of polling booths. (3) Where it is necessary for soldiers in uniform to vote at booths, outside their camps, they must go to the polling booths individually, and under no circumstances must they approach the booths in any military formation.

WELCOME ANDFAREWELLA pleasant social evening was spent at the Broadway Picture Palace on Monday evening, when a welcome home was extended by the Broadmeadow Citizens’ Soldiers’ Comforts Fund to Lance-corporal Miller, Privates Carlyon, Jamieson, and Kerr, and a send-off to Sapper F. M’Kenna.An interesting exhibit was the flag presented by Mr D. Watkins, MHR, to the wireless scouts, before their departure for Mesopotamia, and was hoisted in Bagdad by the Australians, who were the first to enter that city on its capture by the British forces. The flag bears the signatures on its stars of the Australians who reached Bagdad with General Maude. Another exhibit that excited much attention consisted of shirts and socks made by the lady members of the Broadmeadow Citizens’ Soldiers’ Comforts Fund for the soldiers. At the supper presentations were made to the guests by Mr. Watkins. MHR, on behalf of the fund. For Lance-corporal Miller and Private Jamieson, there was an inscribed silver cigarette case each; for Private Carlyon an inscribed silver-mounted tobacco pouch; for Private Kerr a fountain pen; and for Sapper M’Kenna a wallet.

PRIVATE HUMPHRIESMrs Humphries has received the following letter from Lieutenant W. Stevens, of the 53rd Battalion: “I have been directed by the commanding officer to acknowledge your inquiry re your son, Private R.H. Humphries. It was during the battalion’s tour of duty in the first line of trenches at Bullecourt that he met his death. On the 13th May he was hit in the head by a piece of enemy shell, and died a few minutes later, without regaining consciousness. He was buried near Bullecourt the same day. May I take this opportunity of expressing the sympathy of the Commanding Officer and the whole battalion with yourself, and relatives of Private Humphries. He was always a gallant and keen soldier, and well-liked by officers and comrades. I can assure you very much he is missed by all.”

GUNNER SMITHThe official news that Gunner J.T. (Sugar) Smith was suffering from gas poisoning was received by his wife, who lives at 45 Union St, Wickham. Gunner Smith, who is in hospital in England, has been on active service for two years. This is the fourth time his name has appeared in the casualty list, he having been wounded on three occasions.

LANCE CORPORAL JOHNSTONMr and Mrs Johnston, of Anderton St, Islington, have received a letter from Sergeant F. Smith, relating the circumstances under which their son, the late Lance-corporal H. Johnston, met his death. Sergeant Smith, after referring to the fact that he and Corporal Johnson enlisted together, states that the deceased soldier was a runner, and in that capacity he acted on many occasions in a manner which called forth praise from the colonel of the battalion, his actions at the battle of Messines being especially praiseworthy. They entered the line on October 12 to take part in the battle of Ypres, and they had a rough time while the advance was taking place. About 9 o’clock on the following morning a shell burst about 20 yards from a party, including Sergeant Smith and Corporal Johnston. A piece of the shell penetrated Corporal Johnston’s heart, and he died immediately.

TOY DISTRIBUTIONThe members of the Newcastle League of Honour held their annual toy distribution to soldiers’ children on King Edward Park on Wednesday afternoon. Glorious weather prevailed, and there was a large attendance. The platform on which the toys were placed was gaily decorated, and a large Christmas tree, heavily laden with toys, added to the picturesqueness of the scene. The children, with their mothers, were grouped in a semi-circle opposite the platform, and their smiling countenances testified to their appreciation of the thoughtfulness of the league in providing toys for them. It was a happy gathering, not a discordant note being sounded until the proceedings were about to close, then a few disappointed mothers said unkind things because their children had not received toys. The league was in no way responsible for this, as ample notice had been given when the names had to be handed in. Alderman Kilgour, the Mayor of Newcastle, in opening the proceedings, said the members of the League of Honour, in promoting the distribution, were trying to make up for the deficiency when the fathers of the children were away fighting for King and country. The league had done remarkably well, and for several days members had been working at high pressure to make the distribution a success.

Father Christmas, in the person of Mr Arthur Croxon, of Messrs. Dix and Baker’s company at the Victoria Theatre, then made his appearance, and met with a cordial reception from the children. He chatted pleasantly with all the little ones, and afterwards handed them their toys, with many bright and cheery words of Christmas greeting.

It was announced that those children who did not receive toys, through no fault of the league, would receive them later.

AUSTRALIANS’ CHRISTMASMr C.E.W Bean, the Official Australian Correspondent, telegraphing on December 22, says: The Australians are in country which is at present an exact picture of the old-time Christmas cards. The ground is covered with white frost, and every twig is outlined in sparkling white. In some parts, where snow has fallen, the men have been tobogganing down the hills, and sliding on the frozen pools. In other parts of the line they look out over a landscape like a great dreary moor, where nothing moves except shells, occasionally blackening nature’s coverlet with grimy smears. The Germans are continually raiding, trying to cut off posts, and discover how the line is held. They raided one division 13 times this week in the fog. After one attempt, in which they lost a raiding party three times the size of the post which they raided, they succeeded in capturing a post near Messines, picking up two other men lost in the fog further south. Our patrols certainly capture and kill far more Germans, because they are more at home in this class of warfare. At the present time the Australians, whether in the line or behind it, are certainly constantly thinking of the sunny country which is their home. Christmas here is being made more homelike by funds partly provided by seven concert parties, which are now a regular part of the Australian military organisation, besides the comforts fund of the YMCA, two institutions which have splendidly helped the various portions of the Australian force.

ENLISTMENTSHugh Vincent Cumming, Dunolly; George Joseph Fuge, Muswellbrook; John William Parsons, Merewether; James Arthur Peberdy, Gungal; James Ryan, Denman; Hugh Sharpe, Broke; John Francis Tattersall, Cessnock; Humphrey Camfield Windeyer, Tomago; Richard Michael Windeyer, Tomago.

DEATHSL/Sgt Alfred John Charlton, Lambton; Pte George Leonard Furner, Allynbrook; 2nd Lieut John Francis Garaty, Morpeth; Lieut Charles Albert Read, Merriwa.

David Dial OAM is a Hunter-based military historian. Follow his research at facebook南京夜网/HunterValleyMilitaryHistory

Hot summer conditions not expected to hang around for Christmas

Hot summer conditions not expected to hang around for Christmas Picture by Christine Joy Roberts

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Waves splashing against the rocks caught Lee Harsthorne’s attention at Bar beach, but it was the colours that held it.

Moments before sunrise, East Maitland’s Mitchell Griffin snapped a shot he called 40 degree day.

Early riser Taylah Douglass, of Stockton, captured this shot of the revamped diving blocks at Merewether baths at sunrise.

Picture by Anthony Kelly

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Charlestown’s Matt Burgess says he was thrilled to catch this photo at Redhead beach in October while playing around with exposures.

Stockton’s Paul Lancaster offers a glimpse of “Life in the Country” with this shot from five years ago. It was taken at Serendipity, near Evans Head.

The smooth patterns left in the sand by a “Retreating Tide” gave Ravelle King a stunning sight to photograph at Nobbys beach.

Stockton’s Karen Taylor uses the worn timber walkway at Newcastle Ocean Baths to provide a striking depth of field in “Always Summer”.

This shag sunning himself at the edge of Honeysuckle Wharf earlier in November gave Stockton’s Karen Taylor a stark subject.

A low and unusual perspective puts the stinger at the centre of Lee Hartshorne’s Newy Bluey, helping it stand out on the sand.

Photo: Nick Feros

Photo: Janelle Newbegin

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Melting Moments. Photo by Tracey Courts

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TweetFacebookHunter Photography Prize 2017We are searching for the Hunter Region’s top amateur photographer. We want to find the best photograph of summer from the region and we are giving away prizes!

You can shoot your pictures with anything from a Box Brownie to an iPhone.

First prize:Nikon D5100 single-lens kit (valued at $749) plus a Lowepro Orion backpack ($99).Highly commended:Nikon D3200 single-lens kit ($699) plus 300 6×4 prints.Readers’ choice:TomTom Bandit Action Camera ($399) plus 200 6×4 prints).You must be a resident of the region to enter the Hunter Photography Prize, and to be eligible your main source of income can’t be derived from photography.By entering, a person is stating the photograph was taken by them and that they own the copyright.

The photographer gives Fairfax and the associated mastheads permission to publish their submitted photographs in any form, including print, online, book, calendar or exhibition. The photographer retains the copyright. Photos must either be taken in the region or feature Hunter people.

Email a maximum of five photographs as JPEG attachments [email protected]南京夜网419论坛.

Get the full competition details here.

Royals release family photo that features on 2017 Christmas card

IT’S that time of the year, when you send out Christmas cards and family photos to loved ones with details of your lives.

In that way, the royals are no different from the rest of us.

Unlike the rest of us, a family portrait and details is enough to create a storm on social media.

Britain’s Prince William, and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, pose with their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte, at Kensington Palace. The photo has been used on the Cambridges’ Christmas card. Picture: Chris Jackson/Kensington Palace via AP

Kensington Palace has released the picture featuring on Prince William and Kate’s Christmas card via Twitter.

The photograph showsthe Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their two children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

It was captured earlier this year by royal photographer Chris Jackson.

The @KensingtonRoyal account also shared the news two-year-old Princess Charlotte would attend the Willcocks Nursery School in London from January 2018.

A statement from the school said:

Prince George, 4, started primary school in September at Thomas’s Battersea.

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall have also released their official Christmas card, via Twitter account @ClarenceHouse.

The featured photograph was taken by Hugo Burnand, during a private 70th birthday party of The Duchess of Cornwall.

Here is this year’s official Christmas card from The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall.The photograph was taken by Hugo Burnand at Highgrove in July during the private 70th Birthday party of The Duchess of Cornwall. pic.twitter南京夜网/yX2Ig92hui

— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) December 18, 2017

From fossils to ferments

PEOPLEget into the wine industry via all sorts of unusual occupations, butsenior winemaker and general manager for the Hungerford Hill, SweetwaterEstate and DalwoodbrandsBryan Currie arguably takes the cake by once being a palaeontologist.

From a Gippsland dairy farming family, Bryan was born in Melbourne and after school studiedpaleontologyat Latrobe University. On graduating he began a career studying fossils in the uni’spaleontologydepartment and wrote several papers on the subject.

Life as an academic paled for Bryan and he took time off to work as a vineyard and cellar hand at various wineries – an experience that led him at the age of 20 to begin a Charles Sturt University winemaking degree. That was followed by 18 years at Calabria Wines, during which he was chief winemaker. He then joined McWilliam’s as premium labels winemaking manager and developed a particular regard for Tumbarumba fruit.

Now aged 41 he has the stimulating task of running the burgeoning wine empire of the Iris Capital group of hotelier and developer Sam Arnaout.

A hugely exciting aspect will be reviving the Dalwood brand that hasn’t been seen for 40 years or more. That comes because Sam Arnaout recently bought the right from the Penfold arm of Treasury Wine Estates to restore the Dalwood name to the historic Hunter River frontage Dalwood-Wyndham Estate property at Branxton, recognised as Australia’s oldest continuous winegrowing site.

Dalwood was the name given by pioneer George Wyndham when he and his family settled there in 1828 and, after buying it in 1904 and selling it in 1967, Penfolds continued to own the name.

Last July Iris Capital bought the property with its beautiful winery buildings, vineyard, tasting cellars, picnic grounds, restaurants and function rooms from the French Pernod Ricard Group, which in 2014 had shut down the site.

Now Bryan Currie will be able to release Dalwood-brand wines from Branxton-grown 2017 vintage semillon, chardonnay and shiraz and from grapes from the coming 2018 vintage.The first Dalwood-label wine, a 2017 chardonnay, will be released next autumn and other wines will be available later at the Hungerford Hill cellar door and reopened Branxton cellar door. Bryan is also in charge of making the Sweetwater wines from the prized 16-hectare vineyard at Rothbury, and the Hungerford Hill portfolio from Iris’s 41 hectares of Hunter vines and grapes from the prime NSW areas of Tumbarumba and Hilltops.

Wine reviewsSEMILLON FROM DALWOODTHISHungerford Hill 2017 Hunter Valley Semilloncomes from Dalwood vineyard fruit and is green-tinted straw and has orange blossom scents and crisp lemony front-palate flavour.The middle palate has nashi pear, sherbet and slate and the finish flinty acid.PRICE: $27. DRINK WITH:oysters. AGEING: six years. It and today’s other wines are athungerfordhill南京夜网419论坛and1 Broke Rdcellar door.

RATING: 4.5 stars

A SWEETLY AGED SHIRAZTHEHermitage on the label grates, buttheSweetwater Hermitage 2005 Shirazis a beautifully aged 13.5 per cent alcohol Hunter red with deep purple hues and bouquet garni aromas. The front palate introduces plush blackcurrant flavour and briar, licorice, black pepper and mocha oak integrate on the middle palate. Minty tannins play at the finish.PRICE: $90. DRINK WITH:osso bucco. AGEING: 12 years.

RATING: 5 stars

JUICY 2015 HUNTER REDWITH13.5 per cent alcohol, this multi-facetedHungerford Hill 2015 Hunter Valley Shirazshines bright garnet in the glass and shows berry pastille scents. The front of the palate bring in juicy plum flavour and the middle palate has elements of mulberry, peppermint, capers and savoury oak and earthy tannins come through at the finish.PRICE: $45. DRINK WITH:beef fillet tornedos. AGEING: 10 years.

RATING: 4.5 stars

CRUCIAL ROLE IN WINE EMPIRE: Bryan Currie, senior winemaker and general manager for the Hungerford Hill, Sweetwater Estate and Dalwood brands. Photo: Simone De Peak

Economists’ fearless predictions point to lower returns for investors in 2018

**NOT TO BE USED BEFORE 030424**SPECIAL REPORTS**SEE AFR FOR MORE INFO**FORTUNE. 001120. PI/AFR. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION LOUIE DOUVISgeneric. whether the sharemarket follows the economy or vise versa. crystal ball, fortune telling.***afrphotos南京夜网***Despite the worries about Donald Trump, Chinese debt, North Korea’s missile tests and whether property prices in Australia will crash, investors have had a good 2017.

Whereas the local sharemarket looks like ending the year with a total return of about 10 per cent, economists expect tougher going next year, with our sharemarket ending 2018 with a whimper at 6200 points, from about 6000 points now.

And global shares are unlikely to do as well next year, after producing a likely total return (including dividends) for 2017 of about 15 per cent in Australian dollar terms.

The cash rate is likely to stay on hold at 1.5 per cent; though, economists say there’s a chance of one, or perhaps two, rate hikes by the end of 2018.

The fearless forecasts of economists should be taken with a pinch of salt; as they point out, forecasting is more art than science. It’s the assumptions behind the forecasts that are often more interesting.

Most economists expect economic growth to continue at the current annual rate of 2.8 per cent, or even closer to 3 per cent over the course of next year.

They say home building, which has big knock-on effects for the economy, remains solid in most states and territories and the business sector is in good shape. Interest rates low

Craig James, the chief economist at CommSec, says inflation and interest rates have probably bottomed.

The cash rate is likely to remain at 1.5 per cent for most of next year, though he has pencilled in the possibility of a rate hike in December 2018.

Paul Bloxham, the chief economist of Australia and New Zealand for HSBC, is more bullish.

Growth could lift 3.2 per cent in 2018, supported by rising business investment, increased spending on urban infrastructure and strong growth in exports of LNG, tourism and education services, Bloxham says.

Higher growth is expected to tighten labour markets and increase wages and inflation, he says.

“We expect the Reserve Bank to start lifting its cash rate from around mid-2018 and expect the cash rate to be 2 per cent by the end of 2018,” he says. Properties’ soft landing

CoreLogic figures show Sydney prices have fallen 1.3 per cent over the past three months to the end of November, but risen by 1.9 per cent in Melbourne – though price growth in Melbourne is slowing.

Sydney and Melbourne prices could fall by about 5 per cent over 2018, says Shane Oliver, the chief economist at AMP Capital Investors. Adelaide and Brisbane will likely see moderate gains, while Hobart prices likely to continue to boom, he says.

Paul Bloxham says Australia has had a housing boom rather than a housing bubble. He is expecting Sydney prices to rise by up to 4 per cent in Sydney and by up to 9 per cent in Melbourne. Global shares to cool

With US shares in particular having had a very good run again in 2017 “it is due for a pause and I would not see much action over the next 12 months on the US sharemarket, up or down”, says Chris Caton, an independent economist.

“There’s one big caveat – the political situation in the US is potentially unstable,” Caton says.

It is just over a year since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. It has been a wild ride with resignations and sackings.

Trump does look to have cleared the way through Congress for his business and personal tax cuts, which could see the boom in US shares extended into 2018. China debt

As everybody knows, any sharp slowdown in China would have big impacts on Australia.

As Australia’s biggest trading partner, the Reserve Bank keeps a close eye on China. The Reserve Bank said in October that it is worried about China’s debt level.

“Relative to GDP, China’s corporate debt exceeds that of most advanced economies, and is more than three times higher than in economies with comparable per capita incomes,” the RBA said.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the Chinese economy is continuing to slow. It estimates GDP growth will be 6.7 per cent for 2017 and 6.4 per cent in 2018. Bitcoin bubble

The award for the most irrational phenomenon of 2017 goes to bitcoin, the price of which has risen to about $US1800 (at the time of writing) from about $US1000 at the start of this year.

The massive returns from the cyptocurrency over the year masks some big falls. It looks as if increasing numbers of small investors are buying the “currency”, forcing up the price as demand outstrips supply.

The Reserve Bank of Australia governor, Philip Lowe, recently used the words “speculative mania” when talking about cryptocurrencies.

Twitter: @jcollett_money

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

Hamish and Andy go out with a bang in radio ratings

Hamish and Andy have signed off on a high, winning their last ever radio survey in Melbourne’s hotly-contested drive timeslot.

The boys finished the year with an audience share of 11 points, narrowly pipping 3AW host Tom Elliott’s 10.7.

Nova’s Kate, Tim and Marty are well placed to be crowned the kings of FM drive next year with Hamish and Andy hanging up the headphones. The trio wrapped up 2017 hot on the boys’ heels on 10.5 points.

In third place for drive were KIIS FM’s Hughsey and Kate, who are swapping networks next year to replace Hamish and Andy with an extended national drive show on Fox FM. The program will also be hosted by The Project’s Carrie Bickmore and Tommy Little.

In the coveted FM breakfast slot, Gold’s Jo and Lehmo slipped from first to third place behind Triple M and Nova’s Chrissie, Sam and Brownie. The pair’s show was formally axed last month despite recently recording the station’s best ever breakfast results in a decade.

Triple M executives will be patting themselves on the back, as this survey was the first to feature comedian Wil Anderson on Eddy McGuire’s breakfast show. Hot Breakfast is traditionally one of the most listened to FM shows in Melbourne, but hasn’t finished first or second in the past few surveys despite dominating earlier in the year.

3AW’s Ross and John won breakfast overall, with a mammoth 20.1 audience share. ABC Radio Melbourne clawed a small gain in listeners, but a question mark hangs over next year’s results when Sami Shah and Jacinta Parsons take over from popular but controversial presenter Red Symons.

Fellow ABC presenter Jon Faine also narrowed the gap between himself and Neil Mitchell, however the 3AW mornings presenter retains a considerable five-point lead.

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

Retail Food Group shares plunge 25% on profit downgrade

Retail Food Group’s shares have gone into freefall after the cafe and bakery giant issued a profit downgrade and admitted franchisees were leaving its network.

RFG’s shares plunged 25 per cent to $1.98 on Tuesday, after the company said it expected its first-half statutory net profit to fall to $22 million, from $33.5 million in the same period last year.

This follows a 7 per cent share price slide on Monday after Fairfax Media reported allegations of widespread wage underpayment in the company’s network.

The stock has now fallen 55 per cent since December 8, when Fairfax published the first of several articles revealing that RFG’s business model was driving some franchisees to the wall.

Almost $460 million has been wiped from the company’s market capitalisation, which now sits at $361 million.

In a trading update released on Tuesday morning, RFG said Crust Pizza and Donut King were trading as anticipated but its Michel’s Patisserie, Brumby’s and Gloria Jean’s chains were trading below expectations.

This was “consistent with recent trading updates of other retailers, particularly those retailers with shopping centre exposures”, RFG said.

The company said negative media coverage about franchising and RFG was making it harder to attract new franchisees or hold onto existing store owners, which would hit earnings.

“Associated revenues are now forecast to be below prior expectations and future franchise trading revenues are also likely to be impacted,” the update said.

Fairfax’s investigation into the company found that at least 200 stores across RFG’s numerous brands, which also includes Pizza Capers and Crust, are up for sale.

The expected $11.5 million earnings slump this half includes the $7 million costs of a business-wide review, and losses from disposing of corporate properties. !function(e,t,s,i){var n=”InfogramEmbeds”,o=e.getElementsByTagName(“script”),d=o[0],r=/^http:/.test(e.location)?”http:”:”https:”;if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=r+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var a=e.createElement(“script”);a.async=1,,a.src=i,d.parentNode.insertBefore(a,d)}}(document,0,”infogram-async”,”https://e.infogram南京夜网/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js”);

RFG said Tuesday’s profit guidance depended on $5 million of new international licence sales, which it hoped to complete by December 31.

It was also subject to “heightened risk to franchise earnings, given the current adverse publicity”, it said.

The company had not previously given guidance for the half, but Tuesday’s forecast of a 34 per cent profit slump was below what analysts expected based on RFG’s full-year guidance for 6 per cent earnings growth.

RFG reiterated that guidance 12 days ago, and at its full-year results in August said it anticipated “organic growth” across all its divisions.

RFG also said it was negotiating with lenders to extend a three-year loan of $150 million set for repayment in December 2018, and would “advise the market when this process is finalised”.Advertising blitz

RFG has meanwhile launched an advertising blitz promoting its franchisee model to customers and potential new store owners.

Online advertisements are appearing on several popular websites, which link to profiles of Pizza Capers, Michel’s Patisserie, Brumby’s and Crust franchisees, spruiking the benefits of running an RFG business.

Each profile also explains why the franchisee thinks the local community should support their store.

An RFG spokeswoman said the franchisees were not offered incentives of any kind to take part in the campaign, which was intended to remind consumers of the “great job our franchisees are doing every day”.

“We have many examples of successful, hard-working franchisees throughout our network and given the current, tough, retail market conditions, we wanted to remind consumers of what a great job our franchisees are doing every day,” the spokeswoman said.

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