Coronavirus a major impact on Tasmania’s real estate market, but not necessarily bad


Lisa and Peter Stodart are about to move into a house they’ve never seen in person.

The Sydney couple has just bought a house in the Hobart suburb of Howrah, 1,500km away.

Like a growing number of people, they’ve been motivated by a new entrant to the property market: COVID-19.

Unable to travel to Tasmania to inspect the property because of border restrictions, they took advantage of technology to make the purchase.

They saw the Howrah townhouse online one Friday night in September and using live streaming were able to do a virtual walk-through with the agent the next day.

By the following day they had bought it.

“At our age we’ve lived in enough houses to know and we both really loved it, it ticked all the boxes.

“It was wild but it just felt right.”

Mandy Welling says property sales have exceeded all expectations.(ABC News: Laura Beavis)

Real Estate experts say they are seeing a rise in mainland clients like the Stodarts, who want buy in Tasmania.

Many are even willing to make the sale without inspecting in person.

New Figures from the Real Estate Institute of Tasmania (REIT) suggest this is expected to rise after the borders open later this month.

Both of Australia’s major real estate websites are reporting that Tasmanian property had the highest number of views of any state in Australia during the September quarter.

“This suggests we could have an influx of people looking to migrate or invest here,” said REIT president Mandy Welling.

Agents were also telling her they had more calls than usual from potential interstate buyers.

“I think we’re going to see a considerable increase from those buyers.”

COVID prompts exodus from rat race

A balding man stands next to packing boxes
Peter Stodart gets ready for the move from a western Sydney unit to a house with views in Hobart.(Supplied)

Ms Stodart said she and her husband had been planning a move somewhere out of the “Sydney rat race” as they headed towards retirement but said COVID-19 forced them to hit fast forward.

For the Stodarts, the COVID factor was not so much about escaping restrictive lockdowns or the threat of the virus on the mainland.

Rather it was the fresh perspective it gave them on life.

“COVID really made us stop and think, life’s too short,” Ms Stodart said.

“We were looking to move in five years but COVID really accelerated that. My mum passed away, I have a daughter in Melbourne, a son living in Canberra.

But it won’t be until the borders open later this month whether agents will know if the growing interest in Tasmanian will translate into sales.

“It will be very interesting to see what happens to our statistics after that,” Ms Welling said.

Renewed interest after bumper quarter

The renewed interest in the island state comes after a bumper September quarter for the Tasmanian real estate market.

Between June and September there were nearly 3,000 property sales.

The number of house sales increased 32 per cent, unit and townhouse sales increased 39.1 per cent and land sales jumped 70.1 per cent.

The increases happened at both ends of the market, with first home buyer sales up nearly 50 per cent and acquisitions by investors also up.

The amount of properties that sold for more than $1 million were up 24 per cent.

It was driven largely by locals, with Tasmanians making 90 per cent of all transactions.

Ms Welling said it defied expectations of all market experts.

“The market’s just gone forward in leaps and bounds, it’s quite remarkable,” she said.

The demand is pushing up median house prices with Greater Hobart’s now at $545,000.

In Launceston it is $383,500 and in the north-west centres it’s $330,000.

On the flip side, it continues the bad news for renters, with median rents also rising statewide.

For a three-bedroom home it’s $450 a week in Hobart, $360 in Launceston and $310 in the north-west.

Real estate prices still attractive to interstate buyers

A woman sits among packing boxes
Lisa Stodart packs up her house ready to move to Hobart.(Supplied)

Hobart’s healthy real estate prices are not deterring mainland buyers.

The Stodarts chose Tasmania for its mix of natural wonders, clean air and slower pace.

“Hobart has all the advantages of a city, with the artsy side, the culture, and also felt to us like a big country town,” Ms Stodart said.

“Our little terrace [in inner-western Sydney] sold for more than what we paid for a brand new house with views.”

The Stodarts are hoping to move down south by the end of the year.

Aerial view of Hobart and inner southwest suburbs.
The median price for a three-bedroom house in Greater Hobart is now $545,000.(Supplied: Hobart City Council)



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The impact of the pre-finals bye


It has now been five seasons since the AFL introduced a pre-finals bye, giving the top eight teams a weekend off before commencing the four week run to Grand Final day.

Each year it has been a talking point for players, coaches, media and supporters – what impact does the bye have, and does it provide an advantage or disadvantage for certain teams?

WHY BYE?

The bye was introduced for the 2016 AFL season for a number of reasons, with Gillon McLachlan’s official statement reading:

“The AFL has introduced a bye week before the finals so that those clubs playing in September can have the best possible lead-in and preparation for the most important matches of our season,”

While player availability was a clear benefit, there were other reasons as well.

The AFLPA had pushed for a second in-season bye, as had occurred in 2014 when all teams had a bye between Rounds 8 and 10, and Round 18 was played over two weeks to create a second bye.

The end of season bye was seen as a compromise for the second bye.

The 2015 home-and-away season ended with two clubs, North Melbourne and Fremantle, resting more than a third of their team for their Round 23 fixture.

This raised questions of integrity around the end of the regular season, with the fixtured bye allowing all teams to play full squads right to the end of Round 23.

The AFL has long looked to emulate the NFL in many areas, and the pre-finals bye creates space in the fixture to introduce a Wildcard Weekend in the future. This could see teams finishing 7th-10th playing off for the last two places in the final 8.

In the meantime, the weekend off mirrors the NFL’s weekend off between the Conference Championship Games and the Super Bowl.

THE FACTS

In examining the impact of the pre-finals Bye, all finals from 2000 onwards must be considered.

In 1994 the AFL introduced the final 8, and from 1994 to 1999, the first week of Finals were fixtured 1st vs 8th, 2nd vs 7th, 3rd vs 6th and 4th vs 5th.

This changed for the 2000 season, where the two Qualifying Finals were 1st vs 4th and 2nd vs 3rd, while the two Elimination Finals were 5th vs 8th and 6th vs 7th.

In the 16 seasons between 2000 and 2015, 28 of the 32 Qualifying Final winners went on to play in the Grand Final (87.5%).

The four teams to make the Grand Final via a Semi-Final were:

Brisbane in 2003 (Premiers, defeated Sydney in the Preliminary Final)
Sydney in 2005 (Premiers, defeated St Kilda in the Preliminary Final)
West Coast in 2006 (Premiers, defeated Adelaide in the Preliminary Final)
Hawthorn in 2015 (Premiers, defeated Fremantle in the Preliminary Final)

Since the pre-finals bye was introduced in 2016, only 4 of the 10 Qualifying Final winners have gone on to make the Grand Final (40%).

In 2016 both Geelong and GWS lost home Preliminary Finals against interstate opposition.

In 2018 Richmond lost a neutral venue Preliminary Final to Collingwood.

In 2019 Collingwood lost a home Preliminary Final to GWS.

And last weekend both Port Adelaide and Brisbane lost home Preliminary Finals against interstate opposition (acknowledging that Geelong have played more games at the Gabba this year than they would in a normal season).

THE WHY

The biggest consideration for teams that win the Qualifying Final is that they only play one game in more than three weeks.

In recent years the breaks have varied between 24 days (Port Adelaide this year) and 28 days (Collingwood in 2019), with most being 25 or 26 days.

Many teams have struggled coming off the mid-season bye to immediately re-gain the intensity required at AFL level.

The week leading into a bye round will generally involve 2-3 days away from the club for players, before a light training “re-entry” run, into a more solid session 7-8 days before the next game.

The same format would then be repeated after winning a Qualifying Final, across the Semi-Final weekend.

From a physical stand point, the bye rounds have differing impacts depending on the age and maturity of the squad.

A younger team such as the Brisbane Lions would have a number of players whose bodies were screaming out for a break, whereas mature teams like Geelong and Richmond have bodies that are accustomed to a 25-26 week campaign.

A highly respected former High Performance Manager I spoke to emphasises the need for training intensity during the bye rounds.

“A common mistake is not doing enough (over the Bye weekend), winding right down and then the arousal levels and contact levels take time to reset on game day.”

It is a difficult balance for coaches and High Performance staff to find the right level of intensity, contact and match practice in the bye weeks.

This year Brisbane lost Darcy Gardiner to a knee injury during match practice in training in the week between their Qualifying and Preliminary Final. This is the coaches biggest fear.

The High Performance Manager is an advocate for two byes during the season, to assist with recovery from the physical demands of AFL footy.

“We have the hardest, most physically demanding game in the world. When you look at the energy systems, high speed running, combativeness. Soccer guys run as hard as us and Rugby guys crash in as hard as us but we do both, over the biggest playing field, and over 120 minutes and 22 games.”

FAST STARTS

A common trend across Preliminary Finals since the pre-finals bye was introduced has been slow starts for the team coming off the second week off.

In 2016 Geelong were down 0.5 to 7.2 at quarter time against the Swans at the MCG, while the Western Bulldogs kicked the first two goals in their epic battle with the GWS Giants in Sydney. The first quarter margin of 13 points was the second largest margin of the day.

In 2018 Richmond were jumped early by Collingwood, down 1.3 to 5.2 at quarter time and 10 goals to one by half time.

In 2019 Richmond were down at both quarter time and half time before running over the Cats, while this year the Lions conceded 15 of the first 20 inside 50s against the Cats, with Geelong only able to convert their dominance to the scoreboard after half time.

It is true to say that there have been the opposite results. Adelaide kicked six goals to one against the Cats in 2017 and West Coast led Melbourne 10 goals to zero at half time in 2018.

This is where the balance of rest and recovery against continuity comes in.

In a Preliminary Final, where the best are playing the best, being 5% off for the first 15 minutes can make an enormous difference to how the game is played.

THE ANSWERS

There is certainly merit in a week off late in the season, to give players opportunity to recover and prepare for finals football.

The last five years have shown a clear disadvantage for teams that win the Qualifying Final, compared to the previous 15 years.

If the current pre-finals bye is to remain, clubs must do a better job of maintaining training intensity through the bye weeks, particularly during the Semi-Final bye week.

AFL players, like all professional athletes, are creates of habit and routine.

As little disruption from the routine of “play, recover, review, train, preview, play” as possible is preferable.

Personally, from my experiences over 12 years in the AFL system, I believe the players need two byes in-season.

I am an advocate for the 2014 model of six games per round from Round 8 to 10, then a split round over two weekends at Round 18, with no pre-finals bye.

I believe this provides the best balance of physical recovery, “war of attrition” of the long season, and not disrupting teams that win the Qualifying Final with one game in 25 days.


Port Adelaide


Brisbane Lions






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Chinese personal shoppers and Australian brands devastated by the impact of coronavirus


Christine Liu has always resisted asking her parents for money, but when the coronavirus pandemic hit, she didn’t have a choice.

“I felt guilty … even though I can hardly make ends meet, I didn’t want to ask,” Ms Liu said.

“I think the impact of the pandemic has been enormous, and it could be a devastating blow.”

After recently graduating from the Australian National University, the 28-year-old has found a waitress job at a restaurant while she continues her daigou — or personal shopper — side hustle.

She buys and sends Australian-made products including baby formula, health supplements, make-up and occasionally luxury bags to Chinese consumers.

But demand has been plummeting since early this year.

She’s gone from selling at least 300 tins of baby formula a month last year, to selling only 50 tins in September.

Empty shelves in the baby formula aisle in Australian supermarkets are becoming less common.(ABC News: Sarah Scopelianos)

Ms Liu’s annual turnover has also halved from more than $200,000 last year when she earned about $20,000 in profit before tax.

“I was often overwhelmed by too many orders, but I’ve hardly had a message on my phone this year,” Ms Liu said.

“Daigou are disappearing, though it won’t vanish completely.”

Australia’s multi-billion dollar daigou industry has been upended by the pandemic, with the effects being felt not just by thousands of personal shoppers but by major Australian businesses as well.

How has COVID-19 shaken the ‘daigou channel’?

A woman holds a teddy bear toy in her right hand.
Christine Liu says Chinese consumers are turning to domestic products due to fear of overseas products contracting COVID-19.(Supplied: Christine Liu)

Empty baby formula shelves had become a regular phenomenon across Australia, but The a2 Milk Company — a popular brand among daigou clients in China — is now grappling with an oversupply of products.

While it’s hard to know which single factor has contributed most to the disruption, one problem has been the decline in overseas arrivals, particularly international students.

Before COVID-19, there were an estimated 150,000 daigou in Australia.

While some like Ms Liu were professional daigou, many were temporary migrants or tourists working on a smaller scale supplying friends and family with products back home.

About 1,000 brick-and-mortar specialty stores catering to this demand are dotted across Australia, but many are now closed.

The director of Honeyroo, a consulting firm that connects Australian brands with daigou, Jerome Fu, said about 30 per cent of daigou specialty stores were now closed temporarily or permanently.

“Even the shops that are open in Sydney, less people are walking in to buy and ship back to China,” he said.

Goods in a Melbourne daigou specialty shop.
About a third of daigou specialty shops have closed during the coronavirus pandemic due to lack of business.

But it’s not just the lack of travellers having an impact, Chinese consumer behaviour is changing in the wake of the pandemic too.

According to official data released in April, China saw its economy shrink for the first time since 1992, which has impacted the buying abilities of Chinese people.

“Chinese consumers have less buying power to buy imported products … also because of the [disruptions to] logistics, people can’t wait that long for products,” Mr Fu said.

A screenshot showing Angela receiving 1137 yuan.
Buyers in China pay their daigou using the WeChat app.(ABC News)

Even before the pandemic, Chinese consumers were increasingly looking for cheaper and more efficient ways to connect with Australian products.

Jeremy Hunt, a former business executive of Swisse, told the ABC that new online platforms had had an “overwhelming” impact on the daigou model.

“There are China-led initiatives that have added to this pressure,” said Mr Hunt, who helped pioneer e-commerce trade for daigou between Australia and China.

“[New platforms] have offered Chinese consumers a real competitive option, in terms of pricing and delivery timing,” he said, adding that the competition would be intense for businesses in China and overseas.

What about the Australian businesses relying on daigou?

Major Australian brands including A2, Bellamy's, bubs, Swisse, and Blackmores.
Many major Australian brands are popular with daigou shoppers.

The downturn in trade is having a ripple effect beyond daigou and their clients.

One of the biggest logistic providers for daigou shoppers — Blue Sky International Express — went bankrupt in May.

Dozens of Blue Sky Express clients in Sydney and Brisbane told the ABC they were trying to retrieve goods still with the company, while some in Melbourne said they were able to reclaim their products by paying extra fees.

The clients — daigou and specialty shop owners — estimate $800,000 worth of products and nearly 7,000 parcels are still missing, but the real figure could be even higher.

A website in Chinese language saying it owned 60 per cent of the the logistic works in daigou market in Australia.
Blue Sky International Express claimed it accounted for 60 per cent of logistic work in the daigou market.(Supplied)

As daigou sales collapse the fallout could also force some major ASX-listed companies to restructure.

The A2 Milk Company is one of Australia’s leading producers of baby formula, and a major source of products for daigou and their customers.

The company did not respond to the ABC’s questions, but CEO Geoffrey Babidge said in a September trading update that sales of its infant nutrition products in 2021 would continue to drop, due in part to “a contraction in the daigou channel”.

“This disruption in the daigou channel is impacting our September sales and it is currently anticipated that this will continue for the remainder of the first half of FY21,” the report said.

COVID-19 also caused a 16 per cent decrease in net sales in Australia and New Zealand for vitamin company Blackmores, according to the company’s financial report for the first half of this year.

On the flip side, Mr Hunt said COVID-19 had forced companies to recognise the commercial value of daigou sales.

“This is a positive recognition of the power and success of the sector, albeit alarming in that its implications are very real — brands and people are suffering as a result.”

What is the future of daigou business in Australia?

A woman sits in a restaurant in Australia.
With business falling Longlong Hua decided to turn her warehouse into 10 live streaming studios.(Supplied: Longlong Hua)

With no end in sight to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, daigou are looking for ways to adapt.

Ms Liu has found a part-time job in a restaurant to make ends meet for now, but she is also considering using brand-promotion skills to transform herself into an influencer online.

Others like Longlong Hua have already made the transition.

“My business has been falling since March, but I upgraded my warehouse into 10 live streaming studios,” Ms Hua said.

Ms Hua invites individual daigou to use her studios to connect with Chinese consumers and promote Australian brands.

“This is definitely an opportunity, as consumers in China love this type of interaction,” she said.

Daigou Yaqiong Hu is texting on her phone with a video featuring various products playing next to her.
Daigou shoppers are using live streaming and video chats to showcase their products to customers in China.

With the industry facing its biggest shake-up in years, Mr Hunt said this type of business model involving daigou acting as influencers and brand promoters was becoming more common.

“The era of social sharing and social e-commerce is here already,” Mr Hunt said.

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Coronavirus second wave: what impact for Europe? A live debate from the EU Parliament


As coronavirus cases surge and Europe is hit by a second wave of the deadly disease, Euronews is holding a debate with a range of MEPs and health professionals. We will be live at the European Parliament, on Wednesday, October 14, at 15:15 CEST.

Among our questions:

Are we making the same mistakes as we did during the first wave? Are we getting the balance right between protecting lives and livelihoods? When will there be a vaccine and will all Europeans want one? Should Europe now consider a full health union?

On our panel:

  • Romanian MEP Cristian-Silviu Bușoi
  • Portuguese MEP Sara Cerdas
  • Croatian MEP Tomislav Sokol
  • Thomas Allvin from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA)
  • Michele Calabrò from the European Patients’ Forum (EPF)

If you have any questions for our panel tweet them to @DarrenEuronews.



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The positive impact of peer presence and crowd pressure


Dhoni would have won us two of the three matches we lost so far in IPL had there been a typical full house crowd, lamented a CSK fan. No other person can handle the close finish pressures like Mahi, he argued. Similarly, many of my friends have felt that Kohli would perform differently in front of a packed stadium with cheering fans. I am trying to make sense of this argument and relate it to the world of work, where the talk is more about engagement and less about the pressures that bring out the best in people. But, let us admit the fact that anxiety and audience bring out the best in some of us at work too.

Sales pressure

Most sales organisations thrive on pressure. Some create the atmosphere through systems and processes; many others through their leaders’ behaviours. We used to dread meetings with our sales head when he had the mike. He used to call out in front of 50 other people the mediocre performances. However, many of us came back with stronger performances the next quarter. Of course, many of us were performing in anticipation of incentives, increments, and promotions too. But my sense of those days was that more people were worried about keeping their jobs and losing their face in front of a crowd than motivated by rewards and recognitions.

The price of pressure

Wall Street assesses IPO-bound CEOs on their ability to handle pressure. Stanford professor Elizabeth Blankespoor’s study of 224 pre-IPO roadshows assessed how CEOs were perceived in terms of competence and attractiveness and the impact it had on the final IPO pricing. At these roadshows, the leaders don’t really share more than what is in the prospectus. Yet, fund managers and analysts jostle for seats at these events. They don’t come there for breakfast, but to assess the CEO’s competence, mainly how they handle the audience. These seem to make a difference in the initially proposed price and the revised final offer price. The study said a 5 per cent increase in perception scores of the CEO yields an additional 11 per cent boost in the final market price. Oh! That’s some crowd pressure on the CEO!

Templates of pressure

Everyone responds to pressure in varying degrees. Customers, competitors, bosses, colleagues, all of us. Is there a systematic way of creating it? Daily dashboards, unachievable targets, unreasonable deadlines, intimidating townhalls, team reviews, customer NPS scores, annual awards, competitor market share, are some enterprise tools used to create pressures of different kinds on multiple people.

Even simple group emails can create stress on people. Picture this: our boss used to send a monthly performance note to all his team members. If we did not find a mention in his message, we knew we were in trouble. So till his next monthly note, we used to work our back off to get the right side of his attention. His template was a public secret, and he used that pretty well.

Social facilitation

Psychologists and Sociologists have long studied “Social Facilitation” as one of the keys to performance. Social Facilitation rides on the primary impact of “Co-Action Effect” and “Audience Effect”. Their relevance is high in the current WFH and No-Audience contexts. The Co-action effect is when task performance increases by the mere presence of others doing the same task. Physically it’s about how 100-metre sprints are timed best when run against someone. Cognitively it’s about how a higher work accomplishment happens; your library versus working at home where it is equally quiet. Enterprises revelling in the cost-effectiveness of WFH could well be losing out on the advantages of the Co-Action effect. After all, worker ants were individually found to dig three times more sand per ant when working alongside peers, though not digging as a team!

Pressure at work comes in different forms. Much of it comes from expectations set by ourselves or by our bosses or the systems of the organisations.There are no prizes for just turning up anymore in the WFH world. It is now the world of delivering to the expectations. This can cause more stress than before as we are all second-guessing each other about how we are being judged. Neuroscientists who study high-performing athletes and professionals have found that the most successful deliver most under mild stress. However, in the workplace, we refuse to acknowledge the positive impact of expectations.

Kamal Karanth is co-founder of X-pheno, a specialist staffing firm



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How mystery COVID-19 cases in NSW could impact your Christmas holiday travel plans



NSW is in a race against the clock to prove three new COVID-19 cases are not ‘mysteries’, and save people’s long-awaited summer holiday plans.

Health authorities have 48 hours to link three infections from Sydney’s west to previous cases and keep NSW on track for a border reopening with Queensland on November 1.

But if they can’t connect the dots in that time, any hopes of entering the Sunshine State may soon be dashed.

So as the deadline fast approaches, here’s how likely any potential interstate travel plans are looking.

Will I be able to travel to Queensland?

People eager to soak up rays in the Sunshine State are likely to be disappointed.

Queensland authorities have refused to budge on the condition their neighbouring state must have 28 days of no community transmission before the border opens.

Yesterday NSW reached a remarkable milestone of 12 COVID-free days, but the three new cases now threaten to reset the clock.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles was optimistic NSW contact tracers might find links before the deadline ends.

“I really hope that they can,” he said.

“If they can then that won’t have any effect on our timeline, so as far as we know for now we are still on track for that review towards the end of the month and a potential reopening on November 1.

“Let’s let them do their work. There’s been cases where it’s taken our contact tracers a day or two to work out how they’re connected to clusters.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was equally hopeful authorities could “get on top” of the new infections, but she said the situation demonstrated how unrealistic Queensland’s 28-day rule was.

“Until the end of the pandemic, it’s highly unlikely that NSW will ever get to 28 days of no community transmission, because that is not how a pandemic works,” she said.

“I notice that Queensland and Western Australia continue to ease restrictions in their communities, but they keep the border up. Now, that is a false sense of security.”

How about South Australia and Tasmania?

South Australia had already deemed NSW a “low-transmission zone” meaning travellers can enter the state without having to be tested for COVID-19 or spend their holiday in quarantine — as long as they have not been in Victoria in the previous 14 days.

Tasmania plans to reopen its borders to low-risk COVID states from the end of October.

When initially making the announcement, Premier Peter Gutwein, said while the state of play in NSW was looking promising, Tasmanian authorities would be keeping an eye on the situation.

At the other end, the Northern Territory still looks set to reopen its doors to Sydneysiders this Friday, although it is urging everyone to keep a mask handy.

As for Western Australia, the hard border policy is still unbudging.

Could I book a Christmas trip across the ditch?

Last month, a deal was struck to allow New Zealand travellers to enter NSW and the Northern Territory from October 16.

It’s unclear how the three new NSW cases will impact extending the Trans-Tasman travel bubble, although flights between the two countries are still being advertised.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is yet to agree to allow Australians into New Zealand.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been contacted for a response.



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Pandemic impact boosts SA uni enrolments


A shrinking job market and overseas travel restrictions have prompted more South Australians to consider tertiary education, despite ongoing concerns about the loss of international students from the state’s pandemic-hit universities.

Flinders University data provided to InDaily shows undergraduate offers rose by just over 23 per cent for semester two this year compared to the same time last year, while postgraduate offers were up by 35 per cent on 2019 figures.

The growth was spread across all courses, with health-related degrees showing the biggest spike in demand as the industry continues to grapple with the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

All up, 2546 offers were made, with the university anticipating that the increased domestic student demand will continue into 2021.

“There’s been an overall increase in interest in higher education in South Australia in recent months,” Flinders University deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Clare Pollock said.

“That demand is growing comes as no surprise.

“Due to COVID-19, school leavers are more carefully considering their options as the prospect of gap year travel is limited and the job market is very tight.

“Those in the job market are also facing uncertainty and seeking to strengthen their employability through up-skilling.”

 Across-town rival Adelaide University also reported better than expected results, with domestic student enrolments for semester 2 up by four per cent – 14,476 undergraduate and postgraduate students – on last year’s figures.

International student enrolments also rose by five per cent – 6903 students –with the vast majority of those enrolled completing their studies remotely.

But the number of international students commencing studies in semester two this year dropped by 26 per cent on 2019 figures, with only 543 new students starting in the second half of this year compared to the same time last year, prompting a seven per cent drop in revenue.

“Better than expected offshore enrolments have been the main contributing factor to the improved 2020 position,” a university spokesperson told InDaily last month.

“However, the declining number of international students commencing in semester two 2020 points to the long-term impacts of COVID-19 and the financial challenges ahead.

“The University is expecting this to impact on the pipeline of commencing international students for 2021, and again in 2022, which will have further impacts on the University’s revenue for each of those years.”

The results prompted the university’s acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Brooks in September to call off or defer several cost-cutting measures proposed earlier in the year and agreed to by the majority of staff in August. 

InDaily contacted the University of South Australia in July asking for its enrolment data but is yet to receive a response.

Nationally, university enrolments have grown by one percent this year compared to last year, but the number of new students commencing studies has declined by 14 per cent.

The Department for Education, Skills and Employment anticipates that some international students may continue to enrol and study from offshore but the impact of COVID-19 will be drawn out over the longer term.

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Argentina economy plunges record 19.1% in second quarter on pandemic impact



FILE PHOTO: A Trenes Argentinos (Argentinian Trains) employee cleans ticket machines as a protective measure against the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Constitution train station, in Buenos Aires, Argentina March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/File Photo

September 22, 2020

By Hernan Nessi and Jorge Iorio

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s economy contracted a record 19.1% in the second quarter versus the same period a year earlier as the coronavirus pandemic crippled production and demand, though was slightly better than analyst forecasts.

The steep fall, deeper than a 16.3% drop during Argentina’s major 2002 crisis, came as the South American country imposed a strict lockdown in mid-March to stem the virus. The country has over 640,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and nearly 13,500 deaths.

Argentina, a major grains producer, has been in recession since 2018 and is just emerging from default on its sovereign debt, with investors again growing concerned about prospects for its economic recovery and dwindling foreign currency reserves.

The government imposed the lockdown on March 20, and while it has been eased it remains in place until at least Oct. 11, with Argentina still at its peak in terms of daily case numbers. The country recorded over 400 deaths in 24 hours on Monday.

“The key is the lockdown, which restricted supply and was a blow to demand, which pummeled economic activity in the second quarter of 2020,” said consultancy Ecolatina.

A Reuters poll of 14 local and foreign analysts ahead of the data had forecast a 19.9% average contraction for the April-June period and a median estimate of a 19.6% drop. The Q2 fall was deeper than neighbor Brazil, though better than hard-hit Peru.

“The strong isolation restrictions imposed from the second half of March and that lasted until August had a significant economic cost for the entire country,” said economist Natalia Motyl of consultancy Libertad y Progreso.

Motyl added that services, construction and manufacturing had been the hardest hit, while the important farm export sector had been less affected by the lockdown, that had taken a hit from global commodities prices.

Argentina’s economy, which declined a revised 5.2% in the first quarter of the year, is estimated to contract around 12% this year, according to a central bank poll and government forecasts.

(Graphic: Argentina’s economic plunge – https://graphics.reuters.com/ARGENTINA-GDP/qmyvmbkdypr/chart.png)

(Reporting by Hernan Nessi; Additional reporting by Gabriel Burin; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Nick Zieminski)





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Vic cases fall but economic impact deepens


While Victoria’s progress raises hope that the coronavirus health crisis is abating, the pandemic’s economic impact is proving to be deep and long-lasting.

While there were seven more deaths in the state, pushing the national toll to 844 on Saturday, new infections reached an almost three-month low of 21.

The southern state’s average of new daily cases over 14 days is now 39.3, below the figure of 50 which health authorities say is one pre-requisite for lifting lockdown restrictions in Melbourne.

Businesses in regional Victoria have been reopening following the easing of restrictions and Melbourne is on track for a slight loosening of lockdowns by the end of the month.

While daily life may become easier, Australians’ key life decisions are changing as a result of the economic recession, illustrated by a recent federal government report.

Research by the Centre for Population predicts that fewer Australian babies will be born over the next two years, as families delay their plans because of the economic climate.

“Our population growth will be the lowest since World War I as a result of COVID,” Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said.

The research forecasts the fertility rate to drop to 1.59 babies per woman in 2021 compared to 1.7 in 2018.

For the nation’s elders, the pandemic means those on pensions will not receive an indexation on Sunday as would normally occur.

“All of the measures by which we make the determination about indexation have gone backwards as a result of the pandemic,” Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said on Saturday.

“Therefore, the indexation that would have occurred tomorrow is actually at a zero rate.”

Pensioners will instead be provided for in the federal budget next month, she said.

Meanwhile, stranded Australians have higher hopes of flying home after the states agreed to lift caps on international arrivals.

But Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman wants caps to be lifted completely.

“What I’d actually like to see is the states considering returning to what happened before the Victorian outbreak – which was effectively allowing people coming back home without a cap,” he told ABC News.

After the lessons of failed hotel quarantine in Victoria which led to a second wave, it was clear that a police and defence force presence was crucial to hotel quarantine, he said.

Given that presence was in place, Mr Zimmerman said he could not see why the states would not accept more people.

Mr Zimmerman also said that when JobSeeker payments end for unemployed Australians next year, he would prefer the replacement Newstart allowance to be higher than it was before the pandemic.

His colleague Ms Ruston was asked what the JobSeeker rate would be but remained vague, saying such decisions could not be made until “we know what a post-pandemic Australia looks like”.

More anti-lockdown protests are expected in Melbourne on Sunday after police made arrests and handed out fines on Saturday in protests which have become weekly skirmishes.

The state’s inquiry into the hotel quarantine scheme that led to its second wave will be in the spotlight this week as Premier Daniel Andrews and three of his ministers are due to appear on Wednesday.

NSW reported three new cases on Saturday, two in returned travellers and one acquired locally.



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