Local News - Victoria

Enjoying a meal – and raising a glass

The Age has gone to some lengths during the difficult lockdown months to celebrate our local chefs’ creativeness in adapting to the circumstances we all find ourselves in. I will be rushing to support them and embrace any dining experience that Melbourne can manage as summer comes in. I believe our restaurants will be more than happy to welcome us back, even if they have to compromise a little on the ‘‘flavours and textures’’ they bring out to us as we happily sit under the umbrellas and raise a glass to each other.
Josephine Ben-Tovim, Carlton

Many cities have embraced the casual dining trend

Stephen Downes may not have realised it but the dining scene has changed substantially in recent years. Casual is king at the moment. The number of ‘‘fine dining’’ establishments that went bankrupt before COVID-19 is clear evidence of this. His quip about coq au vin would have had anyone under 50 Googling it to find out what it was.

His query, ‘‘Moreover, where is the space?’’ has no credibility. New York, Paris and Rome have large populations and colder winters than Melbourne or Victoria. Closed roads or inclement weather have not stopped their outdoor restaurants. The future is here now, Dr Downes.
Kevin Ward, Preston

Sharing fine food with family and friends once again

Many of our most notable chefs have international backgrounds and experience in innovative European and Asian cuisine in an extraordinary range of contexts. Tastes that originated in provincial kitchens enjoyed traditionally in outdoor settings of terraced tables under pergolas, using organic produce of the highest quality, are the basis of fine dining.

We look forward to the enhanced experience of dining in a dynamic new CBD and rural Victoria, showcasing picturesque, open spaces flowing out onto roads that are closed off to vehicles, with free parking along nearby streets. In these globally challenging times, our economy will be opening up ready for the long haul. COVID-safe environments will free us to get back to a happy, healthy balance of seeing family and friends, and sharing the enjoyment of fine dining for special occasions.
Marianne Hale, East Malvern

Will all restaurants have a COVID-safe plan?

A restaurateur says ‘‘restaurants are more than capable of perfecting a COVID-safe plan for opening indoors and outdoors and keeping our customers safe’’ (Epicure, 15/9). My experience of indoor dining, back in June, leaves me with health concerns.

One cafe did not bother to record our names and phone numbers. A restaurant sat us adjacent to, and less than 1.5 metres from, two other diners even though there were other empty tables available. We arrived at 8pm. The other two diners arrived at the 6pm session and should have left by 8pm but were there until 8.30pm. Menus were hand-delivered and the hand sanitiser was not near the front door. (We had to ask where it was). Until you dine in a restaurant, you will not know what COVID-safe practices will be enforced. Diners beware.
Gloria Bower, Mitcham

People are voting with their feet: they love al fresco

If Stephen Downes has never ‘‘judged’’ a restaurant outdoors, how is he qualified to arrive at the pretentious conclusion that it is a ‘‘stupid’’ option for the rest of us? As long as the weather is OK, alfresco is a terrific way to eat, and drink, which is why it is very common all over Australia and Europe. It is also why backyard and parkland barbecues are so popular, but maybe he has never been to one of those either.
Ron Reed, Caulfield South


A protective measure

Dining outdoors is an appropriate public health response to a pandemic. There is increasing evidence that indoor environments are more hazardous, especially when crowded, and with everyone talking and where ventilation is poor, the risk of aerosol transmission increases. Large groups of people in small spaces have long been known to facilitate the spread of infectious diseases.
The principles being applied to restaurants could be applied more broadly. Gyms should have windows open, school classes could be held outdoors when feasible or, if indoors, at least with the door open. Physical education classes should be outdoors. And Melburnians should let fresh air into their homes.
Dr Anita White, Kew

An act of aggression

Surely when police are requested to assist with a person who is known to have been waiting 19 hours for treatment for a mental health condition – ‘‘Watchdog to investigate police over use of force’’ (The Age, 16/9) – they would approach the situation with that in mind: anticipate irrational and difficult behaviour and use strategies to diffuse the chaos rather than employ deliberate acts of aggression. This fails the ‘‘reasonableness’’ test; it is a dereliction of duty.
Maxine Hardinge, Clunes

Our mental health crisis

I feel empathy with the family of the man suffering from a mental illness who, due to the lack of beds at the mental health unit at the Northern Hospital, ran off and was harshly treated by the police. My son has waited in emergency at several hospitals for up to 24 hours, hoping for a vacant bed in the mental health unit and has run off. Fortunately he had caring policemen who caught up with him. There is a terrible crisis in the mental health system which needs to be addressed immediately.
Name withheld, Doncaster East

Fruit picking option 1

School leavers who spend a gap year picking fruit could get a discount on their university loans under a plan from a bipartisan parliamentary inquiry (The Age, 16/9). What a great idea, but what about the unemployed? My son has not found a job since he finished year 12 in 2018. When he searches ‘‘fruit picking’’, he finds he needs experience or the ability to drive a tractor. He has no licence and no chance of getting one at the moment. If farmers truly need fruit pickers this summer, and the government is truly interested in helping, it should find a way to get the unemployed without licences from the city to the fruit-picking jobs.
Heather Murtagh, Croydon Hills

Fruit picking option 2

If there is a shortage of people to pick fruit, why don’t we invite those refugees who are currently being detained to do the work, with the offer of full citizenship at the end of the picking season? It would be a win-win for all, and would break the current stalemate.
Robert Preston, McKinnon

Wacko, we’re free at last

The day after playgrounds open, Fawkner Park, South Yarra. I cannot believe the irreverence shown by parents now that they have been granted this long-awaited freedom. Takeaway coffee cups are everywhere, sipped by maskless folk (approximately 50) who are standing and sitting in groups closer than the safe, requested distance, with no regards to the coronavirus, while children clamber on the freshly sanitised play equipment. Come on, do the right thing and stay safe.
Ant Straker, South Yarra

Melburnians on the loose

So a ‘‘ring of steel’’ and hefty fines await Melburnians who try to slip out into regional areas (Editorial, 16/9). I am sorry to burst your bubble but they have already slipped out over the past few weeks. Just ask any local along the Surf Coast, Ocean Grove, etc.
Serge Bobbera, Curlewis

Explain the difference

Why does Daniel Andrews think that visits between friends are more dangerous than those between intimate partners? Is there any medical evidence for the more stringent conditions placed on single households? To take this to its ludicrously logical extreme, would two friends who want to visit one another become less of a risk as soon as they sleep together? I would have thought it would be marginally the other way round.
Mary Jones, Mornington

Mixed views on our rights

Why are people who object to regulations restricting their freedom of movement and compelling them to wear masks not outraged at speed limits (for example) that outlaw driving at 100km/h on a 20km/h street? Or, come to think of it, perhaps they are — and do. Are not both equally limits on their democratic rights?
Joe Rich, Carlton North

So some crowds are OK?

When people cannot protest outdoors, safely distanced from each other, but are free to congregate en masse to purchase groceries at supermarkets, we have slipped ever so precariously past the limits of democracy.
Lara Blamey, Mount Eliza

Take a break, Daniel

Julie Tullberg (Comment, 16/9) is right. The Premier would show us a stronger government if he disappeared for a week and let his deputy do the talking.
Rodney Wetherell, Murrumbeena

A very easy scapegoat

Since Victoria’s second virus wave, there have been even bigger second waves in the United Kingdom, France, India, Indonesia and elsewhere. All obviously Daniel Andrews’ fault. Just ask an ‘‘expert’’ such as Victorian Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien.
Graham Dunkley, Gladysdale

The beauty of hindsight

For years, the gospel has been that the private sector can deliver services better and more cheaply than a government enterprise. It is fascinating that the state opposition and the usual shock jocks are now criticising the engagement of a security firm instead of the military to monitor Melbourne’s quarantine locations.

One can only wonder what the opposition would have done had it been the one to make the decision back in those uncertain first days. Hindsight is a marvellous thing, of course. Or is this a sign that the ‘‘small government’’ enthusiasts are having second thoughts?
Ray Brindle, Malmsbury

The brilliant ‘wisdom’…

When the President of the United States says ‘‘I don’t think science knows actually’’ when discussing the role of climate change in bushfires (World, 16/9), I do not know whether to laugh, cry or be absolutely terrified. Is all science ‘‘fake news’’ when Donald Trump does not like what it reveals?
Kim Alexander, Richmond

…and ‘genius’ of Trump

Who is better qualified to say ‘‘I don’t think science knows’’ and the planet ‘‘will start getting cooler’’ than the man who discovered the cure for COVID-19?
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East

The very high cost of gas

Affordable gas, Angus Taylor (Opinion, 16/9)? I have just paid my latest gas bill and it took all of my fortnightly part-aged pension to do so. But, more important, are the concerns of environmental bodies as we face a future energy plan for Australia dependant on methane-emitting, gas-fired power stations.
Pat Anderson, Airport West

A bipartisan disgrace

The only thing more mind-bogglingly idiotic than Scott Morrison’s proposal for a ‘‘gas-led recovery’’ is Labor’s tacit agreement. Not only do we desperately need a new government, we desperately need a new opposition.
Charles Shepherd, Brighton

Expensive fossil fuel

Can somebody please tell Scott Morrison and the Coalition that gas is a fossil fuel and that it is a more expensive source of power than wind or solar. If they listened to the scientists, not the fossil fuel lobby, they would know that.
Des O’Shea, Wyndham Vale

We need to find the gas

Gas-powered electricity and/or hydro generation is currently critical as a component in Australia’s major electricity grids. The reason: to provide instantaneous, large-scale electricity supply backup to grids being increasingly supplied by the variable power generation of renewables, photovoltaics and wind. And this situation will be the case until technology and/or massive-scale electricity storage facilities provide a solution.

So, as the federal government and many experts say, in the foreseeable future there will be a need for probably a small number of carefully sized and located, major gas-powered electricity generators to stabilise and make reliable our major electricity grids.
David Wright, Albert Park

Our city is paying the price

Melbourne’s long run of apparent prosperity has depended heavily on migrants and students, casual workers and their exploitation, and the subversion of our regulators and standards in international education, technical training, construction, environment, public agencies, gambling, town planning, aged care and foreign investment. In sum, we have been living a false economy. We are now paying up in billions, with billions more to be paid by the next generations.
Don Townsend, St Kilda

Voting by mail, again

Laurie Vaughan from Bairnsdale asks: ‘‘With many local papers now closed, how do we know when the local elections are to be held?’’ (Letters, 16/9). Our local paper, The Bairnsdale Advertiser (such as it is) still operates. Council elections will be held by post, as they have for the 10-plus years I have lived here.
Heather Butler, Bairnsdale

Unequal ‘Melburnians’

If the Mornington Peninsula is part of metropolitan Melbourne (The Age, 16/9), why is my local fire brigade an all-volunteer CFA unit? And why, on my rates, am I paying the country fire services levy, which is higher than the metropolitan levy?
Paul Wilcock, Blairgowrie


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


I suppose Morrison will enter parliament holding a gas cylinder instead of a lump of coal.
Merilyn Tabor, Point Lonsdale

Transitioning power generation from coal to gas: one step forward and two steps back.
Francis Bainbridge, Fitzroy North

Someone should whisper to Trump: California’s nine national parks are controlled by the federal Department of the Interior.
Gary Bryfman, Brighton


Five months on, the silence as to when families can visit residents in aged care facilities is deafening.
Ruth Farr, Blackburn South

With its incompetence and lying, Labor got us into this mess. It needs to get us out of it. Quickly.
Brian Harris, Mount Eliza

Dan battles the naysayers and case numbers daily, with uwavering strength. My superhero.
Betty Alexander, Caulfield

Andrews won’t make available for checking and debate the modelling underpinning his road map. A case of Dan’s facts?
Stephen Minns, South Yarra

Can I blame Dan for my COVID-19 hip span and clothes shrinkage?
Kerry Bergin, Abbotsford

Conservatives are upset with the Victorian government because it’s being too … conservative.
Ian Abbey, Park Orchards


Sent a parcel from Sorrento, 11.30am on Monday. Arrived at Beecroft, NSW at 11am on Tuesday. Where is the problem?
Susan Leeming, Portsea

Spot on, Cathy Wilcox (Letters, 16/9) – a perceptive and compelling cartoon.
Wendy Logan, Croydon North

“But no matter how far or how wide I roam, I still call Australia home’’. Bring them home, Qantas.
Peter FitzGibbon, Inverloch

Australians returning from overseas could be quarantined at ADF bases.
Andrew Gemmell, Glenroy

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Australian News

Man raising a family of eight on JobSeeker

A hospitality worker who lost his job because of the coronavirus pandemic has revealed what it is like to support his family of eight on a single JobSeeker payment.

Currently those on JobSeeker with dependent children are eligible for a $1,162 fortnightly payment, $550 of which is a coronavirus supplement.

But the JobSeeker coronavirus supplement is set to be cut after September by more than half down to just $250 per fortnight.

RELATED: JobSeeker payments to be slashed

RELATED: Employers struggle to fill vacant positions

RELATED: What JobSeeker and JobKeeper extension means for you

In a video posted on Twitter by Labor Leader Anthony Albanese the man, known only by his first name JP, explained how he had come to be financially responsible for seven others.

“I currently care for my oldest nephew and a friend’s child as well,” he said.

“At the start of COVID-19 my sister-in-law had some serious mental health issues, I’ve had to take on her four children as well now.”

Visibly emotional, JP sais he hadn’t qualified for JobKeeper as he hadn’t been at his current employer long enough and had been forced into unemployment as a result.

“I wasn’t eligible for JobKeeper because of the fact that I, like most hospitality workers, have moved around and I moved back to a former employer,” he said.

“I’m currently still without a job.”

JP said he was now supporting six children and his sister-in-law, saying the situation had left him feeling “upset” and “stressed”.

“I’m now at the point where I’m trying to raise a family of eight on JobSeeker and as you can probably tell I’m just getting a little bit stressed and a little bit upset by it all,” he said.

“People like JP deserve a government that is as kind-hearted as he is,” Mr Albanese tweeted in response.

“Because when Australians fall on hard times, we don’t let them fall between the cracks – we help them get back on their feet.”

Others agreed, tweeting that JP was a “good human” who deserved more help.

There have been repeated calls not to cut the JobSeeker payments, with nearly two million Australians forced to rely on them due to government-ordered shutdowns.

Announcing the JobSeeker changes on Tuesday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the extension of the coronavirus supplement would cost $3.8 billion to December.

The eligibility tests for qualifying for unemployment payments will also be tightened, after a Treasury report found that the generosity of the current increased dole payments could act as a disincentive for the jobless to take on extra work.

The number of Australians on the JobSeeker payment doubled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to 1.7 million workers.

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Ramsay Healthcare makes $1.4 billion pitch for capital raising

Hospital operator Ramsay Healthcare has launched the largest capital raising of an Australian company since the coronavirus outbreak began, looking to raise a total of $1.4 billion by selling new shares to investors.

The share sale is comprised of a $1.2 billion share placement to fund managers at $56 a piece, 12.9 per cent below the stock’s last closing price of $64.29, and a share purchase plan of up to $200 million for retail investors. The institutional placement represents about 10.6 per cent of Ramsay’s existing shares, and is fully underwritten by broker JP Morgan Securities Australia.

It’s the largest capital raising pitch by an ASX company so far in the pandemic, with other firms across all sectors tapping investors for support, including Cochlear’s $880 million placement in late March. Businesses have been granted more flexibility to raise cash throughout the crisis, with rules relaxed to let larger companies raise up to 25 per cent of their market value in a placement provided they also offer a share purchase plan.

Craig McNally's Ramsay Healthcare is looking to shore up the company's balance sheet in the coronavirus crisis.

Craig McNally’s Ramsay Healthcare is looking to shore up the company’s balance sheet in the coronavirus crisis.Credit:Cole Bennetts

Ramsay Health Care will use the proceeds to pay down debt and strengthen its balance sheet at a time where private hospital operators around the world are facing business uncertainties such as the suspension of elective surgeries, where rules have only just been relaxed again in Australia, and their involvement in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Giving it further financial leeway, the private hospital operator said it will shelve paying dividends to shareholders, and has struck a deal with lenders to the Ramsay Funding Group to waive key banking covenants up to December 2020. This means lenders have agreed to amendments or waivers of loan conditions that would have had to be met at covenant tests in June 2020 and December 2020.

Tapping shareholders for money “will strengthen Ramsay’s balance sheet and liquidity position, as well as increase financial flexibility during the unprecedented operating environment,” Ramsay chief Craig McNally said in a statement to the ASX on Wednesday. “More importantly, it will ensure that we can continue to pursue our growth initiatives and position us to take further advantage of other growth opportunities that may arise.”

More to come.

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Australian News

Shane Warne auctions off baggy green for bushfire relief, joins sport stars raising funds


January 07, 2020 09:04:27

Shane Warne has joined Australia’s bushfire fundraising drive, putting his prized baggy green up for auction.

Key points:

  • Cricket fans and memorabilia collectors have until Friday night to put in a winning bid for Shane Warne’s baggy green
  • Warne is among a host of Australian sports stars past and present to announce bushfire fundraising measures
  • A number of cricketers are donating money based on how many sixes they hit or wickets they claim in the Big Bash

Cricket fans have a chance to bid on Warne’s Test cap until Friday night, with all proceeds to be donated to the Australian Red Cross to help those affected by fires around the country.

The item would rank among the most valuable mementos from the decorated career of Australia’s all-time leading wicket-taker.

Sir Donald Bradman’s baggy green sold for approximately $420,000 in 2003.

Bidding for Warne’s cap, which will come with an autographed certificate of authenticity, hit $200,000 a tick over an hour after opening.

At 7:30am AEDT, the bidding was as high as $315,500 for the cap.

Warne, who joins Ash Barty, Daniel Ricciardo and many others on a long list of high-profile members of Australia’s sporting community to announce fundraising measures, suggested it was the least he could do.

“The horrific bushfires in Australia have left us all in disbelief,” Warne said.

“The impact these devastating fires are having on so many people is unthinkable and has touched us all. Lives have been lost, homes have been destroyed and over 500 million animals have died.

“Some of the images we’re seeing are absolutely horrific.”

Collingwood star Dayne Beams also announced on Monday he was putting his 2010 AFL premiership medal up for auction to raise funds for bushfire victims.

Barty is donating all her prizemoney from this year’s Brisbane International to help bushfire victims, while Ricciardo is auctioning a race suit from the Australian Grand Prix.

A stack of cricketers are donating sums of money based on how many sixes they hit or wickets they claim in this summer’s Big Bash League.

Australia’s Test attack pledged $1,000 per wicket in the SCG Test.

Packer makes pledge, Celeste Barber’s fundraiser passes $40 million

An online fundraiser launched by Australian comedian Celeste Barber has now passed the $40 million mark for bushfire victims and firefighters.

Meanwhile, billionaire businessman James Packer and his family have upped their donation to firefighters to $5 million, having originally pledged $1 million in November.

Mr Packer had pledged the $1 million to help the NSW Rural Fire Service, and has now promised an additional $4 million to help firefighters in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia.

“Australians are digging deep to support each other in these tough times. It’s truly inspiring,” Mr Packer said.

“My family and Crown are eager to do more and the best way we can help, is to significantly increase our donation.”

The ABC’s Red Cross bushfire appeal raised $13.3 million between New Year’s Eve and January 4.








First posted

January 07, 2020 07:59:08

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Co-working group WOTSO to test investor appetite with $40m raising

The $40 million goal is based on WOTSO doubling the footprint of its co-working spaces, which are located in and pitched at suburban and regional workers across New South Wales, Canberra, Queensland and Tasmania.

The company, led by managing director Stuart Brown, said it aimed to be a “ubiquitous” brand outside of major capital cities at a time when startup hubs and co-working spaces are focused primarily on CBD locations.


“It addresses the challenges of lengthy commutes to CBD offices that many workers face, particularly those in large cities or where transport infrastructure is inadequate or inefficient,” the prospectus said.

Mr Brown said the business was unable to predict the health of the IPO market it may enter into this year, but believed WOTSO had growth opportunities because it was responding to a “fundamental shift” in how businesses and individuals used office space.

“Suburban and regional office space allows our members to work where they want. The average commute in Australian capital cities is now 66 minutes – our model responds to this, as it does the demand for work-life balance,” he said.

WOTSO grew its turnover from $1.2 million in 2014 to $13.8 million in the 2019 financial year.

It has 17 sites across the country and is looking to double that with fitout of possible new leases set at $500 to $1,000 per square metre.

As a standalone company, WOTSO intends to pursue an ASX listing in the near future after the capital raise is completed. Shares issued in this offer will not hit the ASX boards.

Australia’s co-working sector continues to expand though investors have watched the space closely after Wework pulled its float. 

The sector accounts for about 20 per cent of the global office market and about 4 per cent in Australia. It comes in many guises from a small open space in a hotel lobby or shopping centre to the large tenancies of WeWork and its competitors.

Meanwhile, niche office players have turned to investors to launch new co-working efforts such as women-focused office startup Frankly Co, which is asking the public for $2.5 million via equity crowdfunding. 

The offer is expected to be sent to shareholders next week.

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