Expansion of Hanson Lysterfield hard-rock quarry opposed by locals


The proposed expansion of a hard-rock quarry south-east of Melbourne has been met by strong opposition from some locals who say the operation is already having a negative impact on them and the environment.

Giselle Esparon, a resident in Lysterfield for 23 years, said quarry sites there had “already destroyed enough”.

“I’ve already got cracks in my house,” she said.

There are two adjoining hard-rock quarries in the Lysterfield-Rowville area; one is operated by Hanson and the other by Boral.

Both supply hard rock and aggregate material used for roads, construction and infrastructure projects.

Hanson has an application before Earth Resources Regulation (ERR) to expand the extraction limits of its quarry on Wellington Road and increase the depth by 15 metres.

“This would extend the operating life of the quarry by five to 10 years, with potential cessation of quarrying activities in 25 to 30 years,” according to the Knox City Council website.

EPA guidelines recommend 500 metres of separation for quarries where blasting occurs, however individual site and environmental conditions mean “in some instances, the appropriate separation distance may vary”.

If the expansion is approved, the Hanson quarry would be 400 metres from houses.

Ms Esparon lives around one kilometre from the site.

“We are impacted by dust and we get noise pollution from weekly blasting,” she said.

The quarry is allowed to operate between 6:00am and 6:00pm Monday to Saturday; a secondary crushing plant can continue until 10:00pm.

Ms Esparon, however, said she regularly saw trucks entering quarry sites at 5:30am.

In response to concerns, Hanson said in a statement that it had “installed signage and a security guard to prevent any drivers breaching the 6:00am no-entry requirement”.

“However, ERR has permitted essential plant maintenance to be conducted outside of quarry operation hours.”

Last year, ERR received 239 complaints about the Lysterfield-Rowville quarries – primarily about blasting noise and vibration.

“When they blast, there is a tremor that starts at the front of the house and goes through until the back windows rattle,” Ms Esparon said.

The regulator suggested that more people working from home had led to an increase in complaints because the quarries’ activities were more “noticeable”.

“Our inspectors’ observations indicate that the quarry has been complying with noise and blasting vibration requirements,” ERR executive director Anthony Hurst said.

“The Hanson Lysterfield quarry is required to control dust, with monitoring showing standards are being met.”

Hanson said all its Victorian quarries operated according to state government regulation and that regular ERR audits ensured compliance.

“The proximity of the Lysterfield quarry to local projects ensures efficient and cost-effective delivery of product to infrastructure projects, as well as minimising carbon emissions that would result from transporting large volumes of heavy quarry products from more distant and regional quarries,” it said in a statement.

Hanson said the quarry expansion would “support the increasing growth demands of the state of Victoria”.

In the 20 years since the current planning permit was issued, there has been an enormous amount of development in the Rowville area.

“I would like to see operating hours reduced to 7:00am to 4:30pm on weekdays and 7:00am to noon on Saturdays,” Ms Esparon said.

“It is a residential area now.”

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Rugby Australia takes the pragmatic approach to Super expansion


Last year, there was an almighty scuffle when New Zealand Rugby sought to establish, and effectively run, a trans-Tasman/Pacific rugby competition. NZ Rugby said that in its preferred model one, two, or three Australian sides would have to go.

For Rugby Australia, newly re-wedded to the five team concept, this was almost an existential threat, as it would kill off the national growth of the game. In either the greatest bluff of the past decade, or a sign of genuine exasperation, the Herald understands Rugby Australia presented NZ Rugby with a six-team Australian competition – including the Fiji Drua – that it would start up rather than cut the Force or the Rebels.
NZ Rugby effectively blinked, and at that stage Rugby Australia was happy. It felt that it had secured its five teams and was looking forward to a 10-team trans-Tasman competition.

It was only after that stage did NZ Rugby come back to Rugby Australia with its plans to add the two Pasifika teams, which RA agreed to (with oversight conditions) as part of progress towards a Super Rugby commission that would eventually run the new competition.

The Herald understands the introduction of that commission remains firmly on RA’s agenda, even though the time frame is very tight for it to be set up in time for the 2022 season.

That series of events explains why, outwardly at least, NZ Rugby has been ‘excluding’ RA from the Pasifika process. It’s true that the Kiwis have been running the show, and perhaps RA would have liked more say into the criteria for the new teams, but the business plans of Moana Pasifika and Fiian Drua have been shared across the ditch.

The whole process also reflects the different political landscapes in both countries. In short, the Australian Super Rugby franchises probably carry more clout than their Kiwi counterparts. For example, the Kiwi Super Rugby sides don’t get a vote on the Silver Lake/NZ Rugby private equity proposal. Instead, the 26 provincial unions do. Also, Super Rugby players in New Zealand are NZ Rugby employees. That’s who pays them. Australian Super Rugby franchises probably wish they had more say, but they have more weight than across the ditch.

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And, if the Australian Super Rugby sides – running on a smell of an oily rag – were more concerned about their own sustainability than Pasifika expansion, it would be a logical – if unromantic – position, and most likely communicated to RA.

The path for Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua still has some hurdles despite this week’s announcement. Both franchises still need millions of dollars. There is still a lingering suspicion – although decreasing – that cold, hard rugby economics could derail the plan in the coming months. In that case, NZ Rugby would wear the blame for it, as it is currently carrying all the risk.

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Singapore economy grows 0.2% in Q1, first expansion since COVID-19 outbreak


SINGAPORE: Singapore’s economy grew by 0.2 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2021, a turnaround after three quarters of contraction, as the country continued its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

On a quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted basis, Singapore’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 2 per cent between January and March, extending the 3.8 per cent growth in the previous quarter, advance estimates by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) on Wednesday (Apr 14) showed.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected a decline of 0.2 per cent.

Singapore’s economy has been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic. After the first case was reported in Singapore on Jan 23 last year, Singapore posted 0 per cent growth in GDP in the first quarter, followed by contractions in the following three quarters.

Last year, the economy shrunk by 5.4 per cent, Singapore’s first annual contraction since 2001 and its worst recession since independence.

“The expansion is a strong signal that our economy is slowly but surely recovering from the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 last year,” said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing in a Facebook post after the data was released.

“While we are cautiously optimistic, many downside risks remain which we will have to pay close attention to,” he added.

READ: Singapore maintains 2021 GDP forecast as economy contracts 5.4% last year

Singapore’s economy rose on the back of strong manufacturing activity.

The sector grew 7.5 per cent year-on-year, supported by output expansions in the electronics, precision engineering, chemicals and biomedical manufacturing clusters.

The construction sector continued to contract, albeit at a slower rate, as activity in the private and public sectors picked up.

The sector shrank by 20.2 per cent in the first quarter, compared with the 27.4 per cent decline in the fourth quarter of 2020.

IN FOCUS: After COVID-19, where are the Singapore economy, workforce headed?

Among the services sectors, the wholesale and retail trade as well as transportation and storage trade sectors shrank by 4.1 per cent in the first quarter. 

A “continued weakness” in the transportation and storage sector was primarily caused by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting air, water and land transport segments. This was mitigated by the expansion in wholesale and retail trade sectors.

The information and communications, finance and insurance, as well as professional services sectors collectively grew by 3.7 per cent in the first quarter, faster than the 1.4 per cent expansion in the preceding quarter.

“Growth was supported by healthy expansions in the information and communications and finance and insurance sectors, even as the professional services sector contracted,” said MTI.

Contraction in the professional services sector was due in part to weak economic activity in the region, as well as “sluggish” domestic construction activity, which had weighed on the architectural and engineering segment of the sector, the ministry added.

The remaining group of sectors – accommodation and food services, real estate, administrative and support services and other services industries – contracted by 3.9 per cent. All sectors within the group shrank, except for accommodation, as activities continued to be weighed down by COVID-19 safe management measures.

Singapore’s first-quarter performance puts it among the first few Asian economies to turn the corner to positive year-on-year GDP growth, said Mr Prakash Sakpal, senior economist for Asia at ING.

In the second quarter, Singapore can expect to see a “significant jump” in GDP growth due to the sharp plunge of activity during the “circuit breaker” period last year, said Mr Sakpal. This will taper down over the second half of the year.

ING has forecast that Singapore’s second-quarter GDP may rise 14.2 per cent year-on-year, before settling at 4.9 per cent for the whole year.

In his Facebook post, Mr Chan said that it is “clearer than ever” that Singapore’s post-COVID-19 economy “will be a very different one”.

“The path of the pandemic remains uncertain with the emergence of new variants and the uneven global roll out of vaccine deployment,” said Mr Chan.

“The multilateral trading system remains under stress as countries prioritise unilateral trade measures in order to protect domestic interests. Our economic recovery will also be uneven with sectors such as aviation and tourism facing a protracted recovery due to travel restrictions globally,” he added.

READ: MAS leaves monetary policy unchanged amid COVID-19 uncertainties, low inflation

MTI will release the preliminary GDP estimates for the first quarter of 2021 next month.

Phase 3 of Singapore’s reopening started on Dec 28 last year, with permitted social gathering sizes expanded from five to eight.

Capacity limits at public places, such as shopping malls, attractions and places of worship, were also eased.

The country has also started its roll-out of two COVID-19 vaccines – made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna – while a third by Sinovac is currently under review.

As of Apr 14, about 1.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered, according to the Ministry of Health’s website. More than 1.1 million people have received at least one dose, and 535,864 have received their second dose and completed the full vaccination regimen.

The Government plans to invite people under the age of 45 to book slots from June for their COVID-19 vaccinations. The aim is to complete the vaccination programme as scheduled by end-2021.

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Ontario budget sees years of red ink to come, as Ford government targets expansion over austerity


Ontario will not balance its budget again until 2029-30, when its ‘recovery plan’ projects a $900-million surplus

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The Ontario government may not run a balanced budget for nearly another decade, at least according to Premier Doug Ford’s latest financial blueprint, as the economic and fiscal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canada’s most populous province are set to linger for years.

Ontario’s 2021 budget, tabled Wednesday at Queen’s Park by Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy, forecasts the provincial government will run a $33.1-billion deficit for its coming fiscal year, following a $38.5-billion shortfall for its 2020-21, which ends March 31.

The province then projects a deficit of $27.7 billion in 2022-23 and $20.2 billion in 2023-24. A return to a “pre-COVID-19 deficit” won’t happen until 2027-28 under the province’s planning projections, which also show Ontario will not balance its budget again until 2029-30, when its “recovery plan” projects a $900-million surplus.

“Significant uncertainty still remains about future economic growth, which may impact these projections further,” the budget states.

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Bethlenfalvy and Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government say they are counting on economic growth to help keep the province’s finances sustainable, rather than trying to do so by hiking taxes or slashing public services.

The budget includes scenarios for both faster and slower growth, but its baseline planning projections show Ontario’s real gross domestic product contracted by an estimated 5.7 per cent in 2020. The same forecast predicts the economy will grow by four per cent in 2021, 4.3 per cent in 2022, 2.5 per cent in 2023 and two per cent in 2024.

Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy.
Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy. Photo by Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press files

Yet the considerable deficits that the province will run for the foreseeable future are further signs of the severe toll that COVID-19 has taken on government finances. The arrival of the pandemic has prompted the public-sector to ratchet up spending to support people and businesses at a time when tax revenues are also under pressure, creating significant shortfalls that governments are bridging with debt.

Future governments may find their finances facing greater scrutiny and criticism as borrowing costs increase. For the moment, though, Ontario is focused on fighting the pandemic, not the deficit.

“As the pandemic has continued to unfold, people have been very clear that they expect us to focus on two vital priorities,” Bethlenfalvy, a former co-president at credit-rating agency at DBRS Ltd., which is now DBRS Morningstar, told reporters. “First and foremost, they expect us to protect people’s health. And second, they expect us to protect our economy. That is exactly what this budget does.”

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Commitments in the 2021 budget, the province says, will help add another $6.1 billion to its plan to fight COVID-19, pushing the projected total for the response to $51 billion over four years. Among other spending items, there is more than $1 billion earmarked to support the province’s vaccination campaign and more than $3.7 billion that’s to be spent over two years on a “comprehensive” COVID-19 testing strategy.

Ontario parents will get a third round of the province’s COVID-19 child-benefit payments, which will be doubled this time around to $400 per child and to $500 per child with special needs. A temporary 20 per cent enhancement to a child-care tax credit this year is proposed as well, boosting the average level of support for a family to $1,500 from about $1,250. Another $2.8 billion is being set aside to improve internet connectivity in the province.

Also in the budget is a new jobs-training tax credit for 2021, which would provide up to $2,000 per person for 50 per cent of eligible costs. A second round of small-business support grants are to be automatically sent out as well, providing firms with an additional $10,000 to $20,000 in support.

To try to attract new business investment, the Ontario government is committing $400 million over four years to create a fund that will support its new agency, Invest Ontario, and try to spur spending in the advanced manufacturing, technology and life sciences sectors.

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Still, the province’s net debt is predicted to hit $439.8 billion this year, with its net debt-to-GDP ratio forecast to rise to 47.1 per cent in 2020-21, up from 39.6 per cent for the prior year. Net debt-to-GDP will then climb to 48.8 per cent for 2021-22, although Ford’s government says it is aiming to slow the rate of the ratio’s increase and to try to keep it from exceeding 50.5 per cent over the medium term.

Borrowing costs will climb higher, with interest on debt as a percentage of revenue to reach 9.8 per cent for 2027-28. Interest on debt expense is still Ontario’s fourth-largest one following health care, education and social services, the budget noted, and is set to rise from $12.5 billion in 2020-21 to $14.6 billion by 2023-24.

“We’ve got a war against an invisible enemy,” Bethlenfalvy said when asked by the media about the red ink. “This is what responsible governments do.”

Ontario’s total spending will fall by approximately $4.2 billion this year, to $186.1 billion, and hover around that level for the following two years, according to the budget. That prompted comments from the opposition that the Ford government is not spending enough.

“This budget doesn’t even mention the third wave, let alone help people through it,” Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath told reporters.

However, the government doubling the small-business support grants was “hugely welcome,” said Rocco Rossi, president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, as firms aren’t looking to take on more debt to survive.

Rossi also gave the Ford government credit for providing as much financial guidance as they have.

“Unless you know the exact date that the pandemic ends, you can’t give absolute certainty on the numbers,” he added. “But there are real programs to help us confront the pandemic for some time and build some key foundation stones for a strong recovery.”

• Email: gzochodne@nationalpost.com | Twitter:

In-depth reporting on the innovation economy from The Logic, brought to you in partnership with the Financial Post.

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Mallee electorate expansion spurs fears of neglect


The federal electorate of Mallee is set to expand, but a resident on the outskirts of Victoria’s biggest federal seat says it is too large already to govern effectively.

Murray Davis lives in Dergholm, a West Wimmera town 446 kilometres from Mildura — the most populated rural city in the Mallee electorate.

Mr Davis said the industry and community in Dergholm was significantly different from the rest of the Mallee.

“I would say we have a lot more in common with Wannon [the neighbouring electorate], because it’s a similar type of community with grazing and forestry,” Mr Davis said.

“I always say to people, ‘We live in the south west.’ But here we are in the seat of Mallee.

“Unfortunately being 400 to 500 kilometres away from Mildura, we don’t really exist.”

The Australian Electoral Commission projects the population of the Mallee will decline below the necessary number of voters by 2025 if boundaries are not changed.

It was the only Victorian electorate predicted to decline in population over the next four years.

The AEC has proposed expanding Mallee to include Stawell and Halls Gap, adding an extra 5,617 voters to the electorate.

Objections to the proposal can be submitted until April 16.

Mallee MP Anne Webster welcomed the proposal, and said the size of the electorate was not a concern.

“Look, it’s a bit of a silly size now, but [there are other] MPs who have 800,000 square kilometres. I’m just glad I’m not [one of those],” Ms Webster said.

“It will obviously increase [in size], but not that much, so the mechanisms that I use now to get around, and do as much as I can with every corner of the electorate, … I will continue to employ those methods.”

Politics lecturer at Deakin University Geoff Robinson said a bigger electorate was often beneficial to the established party.

The Mallee is one of the safest Nationals seats in Australia, but faced a strong push from several independent candidates at the 2019 federal election, contributing to a -28.1 per cent swing on first preference voting.

Mr Robinson said expansion hurt the chances of independents.

“In such a big economically and socially diverse seat, it’s often difficult for independents to build up enough of a profile to challenge the major parties,” Mr Robinson said.

Northern Grampians Shire Mayor Murray Emmerson said he had no objection to Stawell, Halls Gap, and surrounding smaller towns moving into the Mallee.

“It’s the responsibility of the local government to … provide for those smaller communities,” Cr Emmerson said.

But Mr Robinson said Murray Davis’ concerns — about a growing electorate, a declining population and the risk of neglect — would not go away.

“There’s a long-standing Australian tradition of people in rural areas feeling they are badly done by and that their voice is not adequately heard in Canberra,” he said.

“I think you can see these concerns here, and you will see those concerns about rural representation continue to be raised.”

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NRL reveals bombshell expansion plans, potential conference system


The NRL’s ambitious plans to take over the Australian sporting landscape knows no bounds, with league CEO Andrew Abdo flagging an 18-club competition that could be divided into conferences.

As league officials move quickly toward the introduction of a second Brisbane team in 2023 — an addition the Courier Mail has revealed will be worth $50 million to rugby league — Abdo has indicated it’s just a starting point.

Like the AFL did by quickly following the 2011 debut of its 17th club, the Gold Coast Suns, with the entrance of its 18th franchise the GWS Giants a year later, Abdo is already earmarking a destination to follow Brisbane.

He believes the New Zealand market is ripe for a second NRL club and that quickly returning the number of clubs to an even number will make for a dynamic fixture and the potential introduction of a conference system.

“If we can make the numbers stack up, it (a second Brisbane team) is pretty exciting and then that leads to us having an 18th team in another key market for us over time,” Abdo told the Courier Mail.

“If we were to have an 18th team, we would have to have a good hard look at a second New Zealand team.

“Eighteen teams is a lot more dynamic in terms of how you can configure the draw. It means another rivalry in another key market for us, wherever that might be. It means new fans. It means we could have conferences and pools. These are all good options to explore.”

Abdo and ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys are expected to begin meeting with Brisbane consortia in the coming weeks with the aim of providing clarity on expansion by the middle of the year.

The leading contenders to become the NRL’s 17th team are the Redcliffe Dolphins, who have lodged a Brisbane Dolphins trademark, the Brisbane Jets — a coalition of the Brisbane Bombers and Ipswich Jets — and the Easts Tigers-backed Brisbane Firehawks.

Queensland Origin hero Cameron Munster has already been flagged as a potential signing to be the face of the franchise.

“If another Brisbane team comes in, I won’t say no to going back home,” Munster told News Corp recently.

“I do see myself moving to Queensland after football and if a second Brisbane team comes in, I could go back earlier than expected.

“I wouldn’t say no to that (joining a second Brisbane team) … for sure.”

V’landys said the NRL would not expand to Brisbane if it thought the market would be crowded and existing Queensland teams the Broncos and Gold Coast Titans would be hurt by the move. But the most powerful man in rugby league is confident a new team will only be a positive addition.

“It’s very realistic to say that we’ll have a second team in Brisbane in 2023,” ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys told the Sydney Morning Herald last month. “From what I’ve seen and the presentations that have been given to me, they are well advanced.

“The one thing that I am impressed with is how advanced these bids are. They are not mucking around. They are serious. If we came to a decision in June this year, that would give them a year-and-a-half. It’s plenty of time. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen mid-this year.

“I’m not going to do it if it’s going to hurt the game. It’s got to benefit the game.”

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ACCC rules out Rex claim Qantas’ domestic expansion is anti competitive


The nation’s competition watchdog has dismissed claims Qantas is attempting to push other airlines out of the domestic market with predatory behaviour.

In an aviation report released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Wednesday, the regulator said claims made by Regional Express that Qantas is attempting to price out the smaller airline were unfounded.

Rex has publicly bashed Qantas over its recent expansion into regional domestic routes while international travel remains grounded because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Qantas has announced more than 26 new domestic routes, with eight being routes where Rex operates as the main carrier.

Rex says the behaviour is predatory and has threatened to pull out of five routes once the federal government’s regional aviation support ends.

However, Qantas only operates on one of the routes Rex has threatened to ditch.

The ACCC said there were positive signs the industry was recovering and competition within the domestic market seemed to be increasing.

“Rex’s recent expansion into the domestic network, and its announced plans to enter additional routes in competition with Qantas, does not suggest that the entry of Qantas on particular routes is impeding Rex from competing across the broader network,” the ACCC said in a statement

“To the contrary, competition appears to be increasing not decreasing.”

Rex deputy chair John Sharp last week dubbed the Morrison government’s half-price ticket scheme “QantasKeeper”, claiming the $1.2bn aviation package set to boost domestic travel would mostly benefit the flying kangaroo.

“It’s really a Qantas package,” Mr Sharp said.

“They’ll get 70 per cent of all the money and we’ll get the scraps.”

Qantas anticipates to receive 550,000 of the discounted tickets, with elevated travel numbers set to help 7500 employees who were stood down because of the pandemic.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has also hit back at Rex’s claims last Friday, saying the regional carrier had received ample support.

“You can’t feel sorry for Rex because Rex has gotten all this money from the government previously,” Mr Joyce said.

“They got as a percentage of revenue seven times the aid that Qantas got last year, which is the equivalent of Qantas getting $7bn.”

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NRL launches with blowouts round as winning margins near expansion high


Since the Titans entered the NRL to create a 16-team competition in 2007, the biggest average winning margin for first-round games was 18 in 2013. And that record was given a nudge in 2021 with 17.87 through the first round this year.

The NRL has enjoyed a recent history of tight opening week matches, including last year (10.62) and 2018 (9.12), when a number of matches went down to the wire.

Those things will fluctuate from week to week and game to game. I think it’s way too early to reach any conclusions on any of that stuff

Graham Annesley

But most of this year’s round-one fixtures were decided well before the final minutes, a turn-off for viewers and a worry for broadcasters.

Asked if it was a concern, Annesley said: “Not at this stage. It’s way too early to start trying to dissect that.

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“Some teams start quicker than others and we saw after the resumption last year it took some teams a while to come to terms with the new rules. Those things will fluctuate from week to week and game to game.

“I think it’s way too early to reach any conclusions on any of that stuff.”

Despite a number of star players expressing concern about the game’s speed reaching breaking point after more rule tinkering for 2021, the NRL could see no discernible differences as it sifted through data from the first six games.

Ball-in-play time was actually down 19 seconds per game on average from last year, but the elapsed time for matches was 1 minute and 38 seconds shorter than last year. The average play-the-balls per game was exactly the same in the first six matches of this season compared to last year (288).

“Albeit after only six games, we’re not seeing the increase many people were predicting,” Annesley said. “I think the football has been outstanding given the fact it is round one and every year it takes players a while to get into their rhythm.

“This year we’ve only had one trial match as all clubs agreed to restrict it to that because of the late finish last year.

“All that considered and the new rules as well, I think the football has been remarkable. We’re seeing similar numbers across the board to what we saw last season which is pretty amazing to reach those levels at round one.”

The introduction of repeat sets for players creeping offside has, predictably, seen a marked drop in penalties being blown by referees, with an average of 6.7 per game across the matches up until Saturday night. It was 9.9 per game last year.

NRL ROUND ONE AVERAGE WINNING MARGINS
2021: 17.87
2020: 10.62
2019: 14.37
2018: 9.12
2017: 11.5
2016: 13.62
2015: 14.12
2014: 12.62
2013: 18
2012: 6.87
2011: 14
2010: 9.25
2009: 12.75
2008: 15
2007: 10.5

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The small business guide to international expansion


Whether your eCommerce business is 100 years or one month old, there’s one thing that most online store owners agree you should be preparing for from day one: cross-border eCommerce.

When you think about cross-border eCommerce, your mind likely sees the massive opportunity. It’s hard to miss a $4.5 trillion market that’s been on an upward trajectory for the past decade.

Over half (57 per cent) of global online shoppers make purchases from overseas retailers. So, if you’re an eCommerce store owner, you’re likely already selling internationally. This means you may have profited from this global market without even allocating resources, laying out supporting infrastructure, and developing a go-to-market (GTM) strategy.

The opportunity is clearly there.
But the real question is: is your store up for cross-border success? To truly
compete in this massive market, you have to nail the global customer
experience.

When should you start planning
for cross-border expansion?

At what stage should businesses
start planning to expand and sell internationally? In my view, there’s
absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be preparing for cross-border commerce from
day one.

Think about it, aside from the obvious upside, the barriers to entry are zero and you can dip your toes to test the market (almost) risk-free.

Now, you may be thinking, “Why should I prepare from day one if I’m not considering expanding cross-border?”

The short answer is because your competitors are. And even if you aren’t in a saturated, local market, the competition will inevitably saturate it. So now that it’s clear that you need to set your e-commerce store up for cross-border success, let’s explore the two approaches you need to have in mind.

How to approach to international expansion

Without proper planning and
testing, expanding cross-border can be an expensive waste of time. You need a
clear plan on how you’re going to dip your toes into the market.

1. Test first, scale second

The biggest mistake you can make

in business is making a significant upfront investment before validating your
product and understanding how your brand resonates with target customers. The
only way to avoid this is through low-cost experimentation.

You need to rigorously test,
distil key learnings, and iterate. That’s the core of a key framework outlined
in the Lean Startup: Test – Learn – Iterate. At every iteration, the most
valuable yield is a key learning.

Lucky for us, the plethora of
tools we have at our disposal have allowed for rapid testing with minimal cost.
For example, you can easily test your products on marketplaces that serve your
target region or country to understand what works before going all in.

The catch here is that the only
way to know if your experiment was a success is to plan and commit for long
enough to collect data that will point you in the right direction.

2. Plan, commit and invest enough to get a clear picture of success

In order for your testing to be
effective, you need to commit and invest enough resources to get a
comprehensive picture of success.

That means you need to have your e-commerce website optimised for international channels by localising currencies, language, and the overall customer experience. But without localising your website, you’ll have skewed data.

You also need accurate data to
tell you to keep doing more of what you’re doing or to stop and test something
new. Once you find out what works, double-down on what you’re doing and devote
80 per cent of your time and resources.

To limit the time and resources
you invest during testing, you need to:

  • Set specific, tangible goals (a singular, numerical value works best).
  • Set a short timeline to bound yourself to artificial time constraints.

Come back from the losses of the
past year and get the ball rolling on your business’ expansion plan now. You’ll
thank yourself later!

Neil Luo, Head of Growth, Airwallex



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Report into Tasmania AFL expansion bid must be done ‘within months’


“Now I’ve again impressed upon Mr McLachlan the need for that to occur. I have to say that I felt this morning that Gill was listening. We had a very constructive discussion.

“I think it would reasonable to say that I have impressed upon Mr McLachlan that I would much prefer one of the independent firms, preferably one of the big four. I would have concerns if it were someone that was hand-picked that had a long association with the AFL. I think both for the AFL’s comfort and for the Tasmanian government’s comfort a truly independent report would be the best way forward.“

The AFL did not wish to comment on the latest discussions but reinforced last week’s statement by saying the report would not be finished until later in the year or early 2022 “when the AFL hopes to have a clearer picture of its own financial position and that of the wider AFL community”.

The league and Tasmanian officials will continue to negotiate their next steps over the weekend, with Gutwein saying he expected to give a public update on Monday.

Matthew Richardson poses in a rare Tasmania jumper.Credit: Vince Caligiuri

Gutwein said he had also been in contact with Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett and North Melbourne counterpart Ben Buckley, the two clubs awaiting confirmation on whether their lucrative deals to play home-away-from-home matches in the Apple Isle from beyond 2021 will continue.

“I have impressed upon them the need we have to ensure we can get clarity at the earliest opportunity and, in terms of that independent consultant’s report, I am not moving from my position that I believe that can be done in a matter of months. It doesn’t need a further 12 months,” Gutwein said.

Kennett said on Friday Gutwein’s proposed time frame suited the Hawks.

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“As long we get it by June, July, we can manage that. It’s just that these are very difficult times for people to try and make new investments in sporting bodies, so it will be interesting to see what comes of it,” Kennett said.

“As I have always said, I would hate for Tasmania not to have AFL football in one form or the other and, hopefully, we will arrive at a landing place that suits everyone.”

The Tasmanian government won’t renegotiate with the Hawks or Kangaroos until the league provides clarity on a pathway and timeline towards establishing a standalone team. This could yet mean there are no AFL games in Tasmania in 2022.

The Tasmanian taskforce report, published last February, projected gross revenues for its new club of $42.5 million, “bettering the average of similar sized clubs of North Melbourne, GWS, Brisbane, Gold Coast and St Kilda”.

The report expected membership of 38,400, an average match-day attendance of 18,400 and predicted the club would add an extra $19 million onto the AFL’s broadcast rights deal.

Kennett raised eyebrows this month when he said the Hawks had not ruled out the possibility of moving to Tasmania.

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