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Business

Qantas boss Alan Joyce predicts Virgin and Rex won’t both survive post-pandemic battle


Qantas boss Alan Joyce says Australia still only has room for two major airline groups and it is unlikely both Virgin Australia and new rival Regional Express (Rex) will survive the post-pandemic aviation dogfight.

Mr Joyce said in an interview on Wednesday that country airline Rex launching flights between Sydney and Melbourne in March would spark fierce competition on the busy route.

Rex will start Sydney-Melbourne services in March.

Rex will start Sydney-Melbourne services in March. Credit:Robert Pearce

“My personal view is that this market has never sustained three airline groups and it probably won’t into the future,” he told an online event hosted by Reuters.

“You can be guaranteed that Qantas will be one of them – it’s who else is going to be in the market place post this and into the future is going to be interesting.”



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Local News - Victoria

Families back from NSW battle quarantine blues


“They’re playing board games, card games and having jump rope competitions.”

Mental health is a concern. “We’re trying to stay positive.”

Getting through quarantine: Pauline Ioannou, her husband, Arthur, and children Sienna, 11 and Austin, 13.

Getting through quarantine: Pauline Ioannou, her husband, Arthur, and children Sienna, 11 and Austin, 13.Credit:Jason South

Ms Ioannou is unhappy about what she sees as the state government’s poor communication to Victorians visiting NSW.

Her family was in Bermagui on the NSW south coast when there was talk of a border closure, following COVID-19 outbreaks in other parts of NSW.

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At 6.15pm on New Year’s Eve Ms Ioannou applied online for a Victorian government permit to cross the border.

The permit said the family would have to quarantine only if they had visited NSW red zone areas “but we were not in those areas”.

At 10.55pm, Ms Ioannou logged on to the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services website to change her address on the permit: the family is renting while its own house is renovated.

She discovered that the permit system had changed to make a 14-day quarantine compulsory for all Victorians crossing from “green zones” in NSW, including Bermagui from 11.59pm on December 31.

It was too late for the family to make it to Victorian border before the deadline. “It was just a shambles,” she said.

Similarly, Mark Farrelly is angry that after visiting relatives in Newcastle, NSW – a COVID-19 “green zone” – he, his wife and son, 14, now have to quarantine at home in Coburg for 14 days after spending 13 hours driving to Melbourne on New Year’s Day.

Mr Farrelly said telling Victorians in NSW that they had less than half a day on New Year’s Eve to cross the border, or they would have to enter quarantine, was “outrageous”.

His mother-in-law, 84, couldn’t come on the long drive and is now seeking an exemption to come home to Melbourne.

Mr Farrelly is also annoyed that his family can’t leave their property even after they all tested negative to COVID-19 on Sunday.

Relationships Australia national executive officer Nick Tebbey said frustration, anxiety and a little grief were common feelings in quarantine.

“It’s the time when everyone wants to be relaxed and enjoying the outdoors and they can’t do that.”

Mr Tebbey advised people to “find ways to enjoy themselves”, follow routines and do things together, such as board games or crafts, “to take everyone’s mind off the circumstances that they’re in”.

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Business

Fitness court battle heats up after F45’s listing plans collapse


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F45 Training was started in Australia in 2013 by chief executive Adam Gilchrist (not the cricketer), Rob Deutsch and Luke Istomin and grew rapidly with more than 1900 franchises sold including 500 in Australia and investors including US actor Mark Wahlberg.

However on Monday the fitness juggernaut will battle competing group fitness chain Body Fit Training in a dispute over an alleged patent infringement (and unrelated to F45’s float hopes) which is listed for a two day hearing in the Federal Court.

In the proceedings F45 Training claims Body Fit Training infringed its innovation patents relating to the management of its franchises through a central computer system.

F45 Training alleges it had suffered financial loss as a result of franchisees who would otherwise have bought a franchise from F45 Training but bought one from Body Fit Training instead.

In its defence Body Fit Training denied it operated open studio environments like F45 Training and instead pointed to fixed equipment, including rigs, astro turf tracks and ski machines in each studio.

Body Fit Training was started by former AFL strength and conditioning coach Cameron Falloon in 2017 and the business is expected to turn over more than $11 million next year.

Mr Falloon said the litigation was a “minor distraction” for his business and he had a strong legal team.

“The reality is the legal team do the bulk of work, we trust them,” he said. “They involve us when they need to and they get on with it when they don’t. We’ve got a great team and that really allowed us to focus on our franchisees through Covid and not get too distracted.”

Mr Falloon said business was booming for Body Fit Training after a quiet April and May when the coronavirus pandemic first hit with sales of franchises consistent with or above pre Covid levels.

“I think the sales and our growth during that period is also just off the back of a lot of good stories, people do their due diligence and they look into us as a brand and inevitably call franchisees,” he said. “We’ve doubled our head office resources through COVID which not a lot of companies would have done, we realised that we needed to support our franchisees and there’s going to be a lot of anxiety around this.”

Body Fit Training operates 68 training studios and has sold another 180, the majority of which are slated to open in the next year.

“There’s still some significant challenges coming out of COVID-19 and we’re by no means out of the woods, as an industry, not just Body Fit Training but as an industry,” Mr Falloon said. “But the sky’s the limit on it.”

F45 Training declined to comment.

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Australian News

Queensland firefighters battle blaze as Australian season rages


One of the country’s most popular tourist spots is making headlines around the world as a massive inferno continues to wreak havoc across Fraser Island.

More than 30 fire crews are battling blazes on the picturesque island, with aircraft dropping hundreds of thousands of litres of saltwater over the affected areas.

Tourists were forced to evacuate after the bushfire, which has been burning out of control for six weeks, came dangerously close to the island’s biggest resort.

The fire is burning on two fronts through the UNESCO World Heritage site, wiping out large chunks of its unique forests.

Incident controller James Haig said they were doing their “absolute best” to contain the fire and mitigate damage.

“Conditions are very challenging but we’re working through them,” he said in a video message posted to Twitter.

“It’s 76,000 hectares … we’re prioritising safety but also recognising the special values of Fraser Island.”

He said vegetation on Fraser Island was extremely dry which meant it was very easy to ignite, AFP reported.

RELATED: Bushfire season kicks off across the country

But relief for the firefighters won’t come anytime soon with the Bureau of Meteorology predicting the severe heatwave that NSW and Victoria sweltered through over the weekend will move up to Queensland and worsen in the coming days.

The hottest day is likely to be Wednesday, when temperatures on Fraser are forecast to reach up to 34C.

The blaze, which is believed to have started from an illegal campfire, has been burning since the beginning of October and has destroyed more than 40 per cent of the island’s bush.

Mr Haig said their highest priority was the protection of life and property, but they were very conscious of the cultural and heritage importance of the island.

The heatwave and strong winds are expected to exacerbate fire and smoke conditions.

RELATED: Fire rips through Sydney home as heat soars

Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser will be closed until at least December 14 as the fire burns less than 4km from the sprawling accommodation.

“We value your loyalty and support during this time, and please note that our reservations team are busy contacting all guests with bookings over the coming days,” the resort said.

“Guests will be contacted in order of date of arrival.”

It is set to be sweltering around the Sunshine State this week, with fire warnings for other regions as well.

Birdsville in western Queensland has had three consecutive days of 46C-plus weather, with 47C forecast for today.

BOM Queensland warned there were severe fire danger ratings for southwest Queensland “where windy conditions will combine with the heatwave”.

“Very high fire danger ratings for the eastern interior, where it will be very hot and dry, but less windy,” the bureau said in a tweet.

RELATED: See all our bushfire news

Australia’s devastating bushfire season has well and truly arrived – something the nation was brutally reminded of over the weekend when a number of blazes sprung up across the country.

In NSW, November heat records tumbled as most of the state saw temperatures soar above 40C.

The windy, hot conditions triggered a number of blazes – with 62 grass and bushfires burning in NSW alone on Saturday and Sunday.

And in South Australia, a fire in Uleybury, less than an hour north of Adelaide, burnt over the weekend. It has now been contained.

Last Friday, a rapidly moving grass fire burnt through more than 650 hectares in Templers, north of Adelaide, before firefighters and an earthmoving machine were able to contain it by the afternoon.

RELATED: NSW Police appeal for information over ‘suspicious’ blaze

Speaking at the weekend, NSW Police and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott urged people not to think that the horrors of last fire season couldn’t be repeated.

“Here we go again. We have of course seen the first weekend of really significant bushfire activity,” Mr Elliott said.

“I want to make sure the message is very, very clear. What we are seeing this weekend is pretty consistent with what we will potentially see over the course of this fire season.”

“We cannot fall into a false sense of security. The community out there, unfortunately, thinks after the last season we are not at risk of bushfire.

“The reality is 90 per cent of the state is still untouched by bushfire.”



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Australian News

Steve Smith slips the leash and runs free against India in battle of batting greats


People talk about the ways in which they don’t understand Steve Smith. They detail the idiosyncrasies of the cricketer, his peculiar approach to the game, the things he says that don’t stack up with the way others might use the language.

The bewilderment about Smith “finding his hands” as a batsman before the current one-day series against India was the latest example. But it wasn’t a new sentiment. Smith has spoken in the past about the bat not feeling right when he picked it up, in a way that he can’t define, and the need to rediscover it.

Perhaps the difference is in his head, or perhaps his head picks up on a fine physical distinction. Given that Smith’s socks and pads and taped-up shoelaces all have to be just so for his batting mind to be at ease, it makes sense that his batting grip would be likewise.

Making extremely fine distinctions, after all, is what Smith does. He picks up on minute differences in a ball’s trajectory, adjusts for that in his timing, and then changes the force and the angle of contact to find gaps in the field with a precision that few can match.

He is almost peerless when it comes to judging the length of a ball, most notably when coming down the wicket to spinners, his preferred option regardless of whether he intends to attack or defend.

He can focus on his hands, but it’s the relationship between hand and eye that defines his batting: the ability to pick up the ball even when he’s nowhere near the conventional position of having his head in line with it, or his foot to its pitch.

Making clean contact from outside the line of his body has long been a trademark. Not to mention his infallibility when the ball angles at his pads, or the mid-air work that he so often does when taking a catch. For all the talk about Smith’s technique, it’s all built on his eye.

Exactly how any of this creates his batting displays is what the rest of us can’t understand. Smith probably doesn’t really either, and can’t explain it if he does. There are plenty of composers who couldn’t tell you why their piece of music made you weep, or painters who couldn’t explain why you lost an hour in front of their canvas.

India's Virat Kohli concentrates as he hits a cover drive with Australia's Alex Carey behind the stumps looking on
Virat Kohli is far ahead of Steve Smith in amount of ODI centuries scored.(AP: Rick Rycroft)

Part of what defines genius is the mystery of its provenance. And that’s alright. There are the things we can’t understand and there are the things we can. We understand the runs that Smith makes without understanding how.

For all that his batting has the touch of genius, Smith the white-ball player has been an afterthought.

For several years, at least in Australia and England, there was a broad view that Smith the Test batsman had the edge on India’s captain Virat Kohli. Starting in 2013, Smith did set about piling up Test centuries more prolifically.

But in subsequent years Kohli found a groove that caught him up on that measure, where he currently leads 27 to 26. Like Smith, he has compiled a substantial body of Test work on every foreign shore that has traditionally confounded his countrymen.

Which means that in debates as to who is the better player, there is really no arguing with the tie-breaker of the one-day format. Before this current series Smith’s tally stood at nine ODI centuries to Kohli’s 43. India’s captain has played twice as many matches, but in them he had made more than four times as many hundreds, three times as many runs, and an average close to 50 per cent higher.

Australia batsman Steve Smith hits a ball down the ground through the air in the second ODI against India.
Steve Smith’s wicket fell two balls after reaching his century.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Raised in the Indian Premier League, Kohli has never had a problem hitting a faster tempo. Smith at times has struggled with that adjustment. He too has made IPL runs but mostly as an anchor. He has had patches of white-ball brilliance but hasn’t consistently dominated.

In the main he has played something like a hotted-up version of his Test batting. His first one-day century for Australia came off 115 balls, his second from 109. During his hottest-ever streak across formats he brought up a hundred from 93 balls in his first ODI as captain, and what for a long time was his fastest from 89 balls in the 2015 World Cup semi-final.

His subsequent hundreds were made from 97 balls, 104, 120, 97, and 117. Fine one-day batting, but nothing that prepared an audience for what they saw last Friday night when he came out and scorched a century from 62 balls, the third-fastest by an Australian.

Even less so for him to come out two nights later and do the exact same thing, 62 balls once again, this innings even more outrageous in its range of shots and its scope of ambition.

The Sunday hundred was like a series of time-lapse photos. It flowered in fast forward, starting with Smith barely moving at the start of his innings while steering Jasprit Bumrah for four, merely placing the bat in the path of the ball, and ending with Smith zooming around the crease like an action figure made of high-bounce rubber.

Steve Smith stoops low to scoop the ball over his head against India
Steve Smith playing a typically unconventional shot at the SCG.(AP: Rick Rycroft)

He made the best deliveries from India’s best bowlers look ordinary, like using fast feet to make room outside off stump and driving Mohammed Shami’s yorker off the line of the wicket through cover for four.

When his partner Marnus Labuschagne hit a flat sweep from the leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, Smith immediately followed by getting further across the line of the ball, allowing him to lift the sweep for six. An object lesson to a younger player.

When India had no deep backward square, Smith square-drove Jasprit Bumrah to that boundary. As soon as they moved a fielder there, he glided finer past the short third man.

When he felt like it, he galloped at the spinners to hit straight sixes, or stayed put in the crease to slog-sweep them.

Upon raising his century, he anticipated that Hardik Pandya would bowl wide. Smith had already tried and failed to play a scoop shot earlier in the day. So he threw himself across to the line of the ball in the manner that he lunges in the field, got his scooping bat under it, and sent it through fine leg. That was the last garnish, caught next ball for 104.

In the space of three days, Smith’s two hundreds have helped drive two of the eight highest one-day scores ever made by an Australian team. And given how well the Indians have batted in the chase, it was just as well for Australia that he helped make so many.

This is a refined version of Smith: all hands, all eye, no fear. Perhaps a lack of recent Test cricket has freshened his batteries or sharpened his approach. Whatever the cause, it is the best he has batted in Australian gold.

It may not be a permanent change, because maintaining this level would be a huge ask. But it was interesting on Sunday night that Kohli had to play the classy but sensible 89 from 87 balls in response to a bigger flourish. For a weekend at least, Smith slipped the leash and ran free.



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Australian News

Kedron caravans battle Chinese manufacturer


A longstanding Brisbane family business has been caught in a trademark war with a Chinese company that is now using its trusted name on caravans in Asia.

The Gall family have been making and selling Kedron brand caravans in Brisbane since 1962 and were on the cusp breaking into the US market when they discovered a Chinese company had started using their brand name.

The shock revelation comes as the family has battled staying open during the pandemic which saw many grey nomads locked out of Queensland and unable to collect about 30 caravans that had been ordered.

Glen Gall said they were in the process of trademarking their name in the US when COVID-19 hit Australia and they then turned their attention to home where orders were mounting up.

“At the start of the year we engaged a lawyer, because of the growth of interest in America, and we were looking to trademark it there, because you are not going to export to China,” he told NCA NewsWire.

“So it was more about protecting the brand in America than trademarking in China.

“We started the process and then coronavirus hit and we changed our focus, especially for us here where 60 per cent of our orders are interstate, so where we normally have four to five finished vans, we had 30.”

Mr Gall said they only found out about Kedron branded caravans in China after a business associate sent them photos from the trade show.

He said some, not all, of their caravan parts were manufactured in China.

Eaglegate Lawyers trademark lawyer Nicole Murdoch said businesses needed to register trademarks, not only in the country they intend to export to, but also any country where parts were manufactured.

She said it was not just protecting your business against rip-offs.

“You desperately want to protect where you manufacture your product,” Ms Murdoch said.

“What you don’t want is someone coming along where you have a nice cheap manufacturing plant, with all the dyes and things like that you have been using for decades, and comes along and trademarks your brand,” Ms Murdoch said.

“The countries you need to cover are your point-of-sale countries and manufacturing countries.”



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Australian News

Live: All Blacks, Wallabies locked in tight battle in second Bledisloe Cup Test



Coming off last weekend’s thrilling draw, there is little separating New Zealand and Australia at Eden Park, as the Wallabies chase their first win over the All Blacks at the venue in 34 years. Follow all the action in our live ScoreCentre.



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Australian News

AFL live: Neck and neck as Port Adelaide and Richmond do prelim final battle



The Power are hoping to qualify for their first grand final in 13 years, but to do so they must defeat the reigning premiers at Adelaide Oval. Follow our ScoreCentre for the live score and key stats.



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Australian News

Crews battle Royal National Park blaze


Firefighting crews will work overnight to contain a massive bushfire in Sydney’s south, with the blaze burning out of control on Saturday afternoon.

The fire is burning in the Royal National Park on the eastern side of the Princes Highway, south of Heathcote.

It is understood the blaze started after a spot fire broke containment lines of a controlled hazard reduction burn at about 1pm.

The spot fire quickly got out of control and turned into a 200 hectare blaze, with firefighters calling in a waterbombing aircraft on Saturday afternoon to help contain the blaze.

Conditions have now eased and crews have managed to get the fire back under control.

The fire caused major delays on the Princes Highway, with traffic backed up in both directions for hours.

Parts of the highway and surrounding roads were closed intermittently throughout the afternoon, with motorists urged to delay their trip or use an alternate route.

Train services in the area were also temporarily suspended, with buses replacing trains on the T4 Eastern Suburbs line and Illawarra and south coast line between Sutherland and Waterfall.

The blaze is now burning in a north easterly direction, with crews continuing to work overnight.

There is currently no threat to properties in the area and the Princes Highway is open in both directions.



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Local News - Victoria

Families battle confusion over contact tracing


“If this is how it’s managed with a small outbreak in a town, what would they do if it was 200 people or there were outbreaks all across the state?”

The coronavirus outbreak linked to the Kilmore cafe, which grew from two to four people on Thursday, began after a Melburnian with permission to leave the city stopped illegally to dine on September 30 and infected a waitress who tested positive to COVID-19 on Saturday evening.

Victoria recorded 11 new cases of coronavirus yesterday, bringing the statewide 14-day new-case average to 10.1. For Melbourne to move to step three of the state government’s plan for easing restrictions on October 19, that figure needs to be below five. The number of mystery cases also needs to be below five.

Premier Daniel Andrews said there was little chance there would be no changes to restrictions on October 19, but he warned steps could be small if numbers were not ideal.

“We’ll look to make as many changes as we can,” he said. “I can’t rule out anything at this stage.”

The man who sparked the Kilmore cafe outbreak was linked to the state’s largest active cluster, of 31 people, which is connected to the Butcher Club at Chadstone shopping centre.

Current Department of Health and Human Services advice says anyone who dined at the Kilmore cafe between September 30 and October 3 is considered a potential “close contact” and should come forward for testing. About 230 people have been asked to self-isolate.

But families exposed to the outbreak said they had battled contact-tracing delays, conflicting advice and unanswered questions about whether they should self-isolate and get tested.

“I called the COVID hotline on Tuesday morning. I stressed if there’s a risk to me, there could be a really big problem,” Ms Lawton said. “I was in a maternity ward; it’s adjacent to the acute award. There’s a lot of medical staff who work with newborns.

“We got tested on Wednesday [October 7] and the testing centre told us that we were considered close contacts and should quarantine for 14 days before getting a second test to follow up.

“I called the local contact-tracing team later on Wednesday, and they said that as I was a ‘casual’ contact and not there when an infectious person was, I only had to isolate until I got a negative test. I thought, which advice do we follow? Are we risking fines if we choose the wrong option?”

Hundreds of Kilmore locals have visited a pop-up testing clinic as a result of the Oddfellows Cafe cluster.

Hundreds of Kilmore locals have visited a pop-up testing clinic as a result of the Oddfellows Cafe cluster.Credit:Justin McManus

On Thursday afternoon, Ms Lawton said she received another phone call advising her family to get tested again and undergo the full 14-day quarantine.

On Wednesday morning, Jeroen Weimar, the head of Victoria’s testing regime, told a press conference that the household contacts of 170 diners at Oddfellows Cafe had been asked to self-isolate as part of a move to replicate a NSW technique of quarantining “contacts of contacts”.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said last month that Victoria’s contact tracing team, which was swamped as the second wave peaked at 725 cases on a single day, had since grown to more than 2400 people and was “pretty similar” to the lauded NSW system.

Hassan Vally, an associate professor in public health at La Trobe University, said the government had a responsibility to accompany changing information with clear explanations for those affected.

“I think moving to isolate contacts of contacts is a good move,” he said. “But it doesn’t matter how much you’re doing, if the feedback coming back to you is people aren’t clear on what’s happening and why, you need to work even harder.”

Toni Hutson, who visited Oddfellows Cafe on Friday when the infected waitress was working, said advice to her had been conflicting since she was first contacted at 10pm on Monday and told she was a close contact and should get tested and self-isolate.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton 
 defended Victoria's contact-tracing unit this week.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton
defended Victoria’s contact-tracing unit this week.
Credit:Simon Schluter

On Wednesday, five hours after Mr Weimar addressed the media, Ms Hutson received a call from Goulburn Valley Health telling her that her family would also need to isolate.

“The operator said, ‘I’m ringing to let you know there’s been a meeting and your family now needs to quarantine’,” she said. “I said, ‘Hang on, so my son needs to come home from work right now? Can you explain why?’

“She said it was a decision made by the Chief Health Officer and that was it.”

Ms Hutson, a retiree, provided contact details for her son and family members and was told they’d be called soon with more detailed instructions. She said health authorities were yet to call them by Thursday afternoon.

“It’s like they’re not talking to each other,” she said. “They ring you and go over the same things. I’m happy to stay home and do the right thing, but particularly when it’s impacting on people’s livelihoods, I think [health authorities] have got an obligation to answer questions. Confusion can just create fear.”

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The DHHS said on Thursday that it was “taking a stringent approach to the Kilmore outbreak, to ensure any possible spread of coronavirus is stamped out quickly.

“The department is very grateful for the Kilmore community’s overwhelming support and co-operation so far and we thank them for their understanding.

“We are working to contain the risk by not only asking close contacts to isolate, but their contacts as well, putting a ring around all of those in the local community who may well be at risk of exposure to the virus.”

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