The acquisition of the stake in Chevron’s $US29 billion Wheatstone LNG project in Western Australia is set to increase Woodside’s production.Woodside Petroleum chief executive Peter Coleman is eyeing more potential acquisitions in the depressed oil and gas sector after striking a $US3.75 billion ($4.56 billion) deal to buy Apache’s stakes in two LNG projects and a Western Australian oil field that will add future as well as immediate production.
Shanghai night field

News of the deal, which had been rumoured in the market for several weeks, came as Woodside delayed the timing of its Browse floating LNG venture in WA, as it seeks to take advantage of the subdued services sector to cut costs at the expensive project.

Woodside will pay Apache $US2.75 billion in cash plus about $US1 billion to cover some of the US company’s sunk investment in the Wheatstone LNG project in WA and the planned Kitimat LNG terminal in western Canada.

Also included is Apache’s stakes in gas fields off the WA coast and a half-share of a huge shale gas resource in western Canada, the Australian player’s first entry into unconventional gas.

The immediate lift to production will come from Apache’s 65 per cent stake in the small but valuable Balnaves oil venture off WA, which started up in August at about 30,000 barrels a day.

Wheatstone LNG is due to start production in late 2016 and Woodside’s new 13 per cent stake will provide another step-up in LNG production after its own projects at Browse and Sunrise have been delayed.

The “blue sky” in the deal comes through Apache’s 50 per cent stale in the proposed 10 million-tonnes-a-year Kitimat export venture on Canada’s Pacific coast, which is at an early stage with no certainty of development.

The acquisition counters criticism that Woodside lacks growth in its portfolio, having last year abandoned the James Price Point LNG project in WA, while the Sunrise venture in the Timor Sea remains stalled.

Efforts to buy into growth have had mixed success with several new international exploration entries countered by the abandonment in May of the proposed $US2.5 billion investment in the Leviathan gas venture in Israel.

Mr Coleman described the Apache assets as a “natural fit” for Woodside, pointing to the rareness of the opportunity to buy a stake in a “world-class” venture such as Wheatstone.

But the deal met with a downbeat response from some quarters, with Bernstein Research analyst Neil Beveridge pointing to the risk of cost blowouts at Wheatstone and the likelihood Kitimat LNG will “struggle” in an environment of lower oil and gas prices.

“We see this as a reasonable transaction for Woodside but not significantly value accretive (at this stage)”, he said.

Woodside’s share price slid 2.8 per cent to $34.40, but its peers were also lower as global oil prices extended their dive southwards.

JPMorgan analyst Ben Wilson assessed the deal as at “a fair price but no fire sale” and estimated the Wheatstone stake could lift Woodside’s 2017 output by 15 per cent.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Andrew Wiliams said the deal “ticks some boxes but it doesn’t tick others”.

“It’s not a needle shifter per se,” Mr Wiliams said.

Significantly, both the major parts of the deal bring Woodside into close partnership with former bitter rival Chevron, which leads the Wheatstone project and is the other half-owner of Kitimat.

Under previous chief executive Don Voelte, Woodside was often publicly at loggerheads with the US energy giant. The rivalry between the two led to the separate development of the immediately adjacent Wheatstone and Pluto gas fields in the Carnarvon Basin in two competing LNG projects that many saw as ideal candidates for a single venture.

Mr Coleman said he was eager to forge new relationships with energy majors, given such links for Woodside are currently limited to Shell and BP.

Expanding those links to include Chevron “can only be a positive”, he said.

On the financial front, Woodside can comfortably fund the deal from its mounting cash reserves and existing debt. Its 80 per cent payout ratio for dividends is unaffected by the deal, as is its BBB+ credit rating.

Moody’s said that while a key ratio between cash and debt would weaken to “close to our tolerance level” in 2015, it would return to more comfortable levels the following year.

“Offsetting the negative financial impact of the transaction is the expected strengthening in Woodside’s business profile, as the acquired assets will grow production capacity for the company at a time when we were expecting limited, if any, production growth from existing assets,” the ratings agency said, while also citing increased project executive risk until Wheatstone is completed.

Construction of Wheatstone is about half complete and Chevron has flagged a budget review within the next few weeks, with wide expectations it will see some increase from its original $US29 billion price tag despite being more protected from blowouts than the US company’s larger Gorgon project, also in WA.

At Browse, where Woodside is partnered by Shell, BP, PetroChina and a venture between Mitsubishi and Mitsui, the date for a decision to start engineering and design  (FEED) work has been put back to mid-2015 from late this year.

A final investment decision on Browse floating LNG, which is expected to cost more than $US40 billion, has also been deferred, to mid-2016 from late 2015.

Mr Coleman said the delay would allow the partners to progress approvals for the project, and reach an agreement with the WA government on domestic gas supply requirements

The WA government is insisting that the Browse floating venture supply gas into the WA market alongside its LNG export plans, posing a hurdle that is yet to be overcome.

The delay to Browse came as no surprise to the market given the plunge in oil prices, which has raised doubts around the economics of the floating plan, and the absence of customers that have signed up for LNG.

“In the current pricing and capex environment and with partners having multiple supply options, we expect that Browse could be further delayed,” Bernstein’s Mr Beveridge said.

Mr Coleman said the deal “doesn’t preclude anything” in terms of future acquisitions and signalled Woodside could be interested in increasing its stake in Wheatstone should Chevron look to reduce its interest, or in other Apache assets in WA if they came onto the market “at a price that made sense” and didn’t trigger objections from the competition regulator.

Apache, which is refocusing on its North American interests, will still have several energy interests in WA, including its Harriet gas venture, and activities in the Carnarvon, Exmouth and Canning basins. It also retains its 49 per cent stake in fertiliser producer Yara Holdings.

Read More →

When it comes to the currency, it seems there is no pleasing Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens.
Shanghai night field

This time last year he got traders’ pulses racing by calling for the dollar to fall to about US85c, when it was fetching US90c.

It has done that and much more since, reaching four-year lows near US82c, but Stevens remains frustrated. Last week he said he would prefer to see it trade near US75c, a level not seen for 10 years.

What’s going on?

At first glance you might think these two rare statements – it is unusual for the governor to nominate a preferred currency level – are inconsistent.

But it’s not that simple. In fact, what they really show is just how big a headache the dollar remains for the economy, even though it has fallen so sharply recently. And unfortunately for Stevens, the causes of this headache are largely out of his control, and they don’t look like fading any time soon.

So, why does Stevens remain so troubled about the dollar when it has tumbled 14 per cent in the year, even lower than the target he offered last December?

There are a few reasons, but a big one is that the importance of the United States dollar is overstated in much of the public discussion about the exchange rate.

We’ve been hearing the RBA and other economists bang on for several years about how a lower exchange rate would be good for the economy,   because it would assist exporters and businesses that compete with importers.

When they say this, it is easy to assume they are talking about the much-quoted exchange rate versus the US dollar.

But how the Aussie fares against the greenback isn’t nearly as economically significant as the media and financial markets would have you think.

The rate that matters most to the economy is the trade weighted index. That   measures our dollar against the currencies of our biggest trading partners, which are weighted according to their share of trade with Australia.

By this measure, the exchange rate has fallen much less than might be imagined.

The dollar is down 14 per cent this year against the greenback, but it has fallen only 3 per cent when measured on the trade weighted index.

The index has dipped so slightly because much of the dollar’s recent decline has been a case of US dollar strength, not Australian weakness.

Against the Japanese yen, the currency of our second-biggest trade partner, the Aussie has been rising throughout the year and last month hit its highest level in more than a year.

It’s a similar story against the euro. One Aussie dollar today buys about 66 euro cents, slightly more than it did at the beginning of the year.

Dwelling on the trade weighted index sounds technical, but the point is the dollar is doing a rather poor job as a “shock absorber” for the economy. For example, businesses exporting to Japan, or domestic companies competing with imports from Europe, are not getting much relief from recent changes in the currency.

And if ever there was a time when we needed the dollar to act as a shock absorber, it is now.

The price of our biggest export, iron ore, has crashed by 30 per cent since May, while the coal exported to power stations is down 15 per cent.

That takes us to the second reason Stevens has changed his tune and wants a US75c dollar now. National income is being crunched by plunging export prices and a weaker dollar would shield the country from some of this pain.

The government’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook on Monday forecast the terms of trade – export prices relative to income prices – would decline by the most since official records began in 1959.

These plunges in export prices, and the prospect of more pain, explains why Stevens has changed his tune to push for a US75c exchange rate, instead of US85c. The goal posts have shifted, because commodity prices are far lower than a year ago.

Throughout history, our dollar has tended to move in line with commodities that we export, which cushions us from swings in export prices such as these. But this relationship is much weaker now, partly because of the actions of foreign central banks.

The US has ended its US$4.5 trillion program of buying government bonds, but central banks in Japan, and to a lesser extent Europe, are pumping money (or liquidity) into financial markets in an attempt to encourage borrowing and economic activity.

The Bank of Japan is on track to add a staggering 355 trillion yen in currency and electronic money by the end of next year, while European Central Bank has expanded its balance sheet and is also under pressure to start buying government bonds.

All this money needs a home. AAA-rated Australia still looks good, despite Stevens’ protestations.

Get it? The Aussie is being buffeted by the policies of overseas central banks at a time when the biggest source of national income is plunging.

Stevens and the RBA board have a lot of power in their ability to set official interest rates, but there is only so much that will do in fighting this battle. It is little wonder he is getting frustrated.

Read More →

The Amcor paper recycling mill in Fairfield. The Amcor paper recycling mill in Fairfield.
Shanghai night field

The Amcor paper recycling mill in Fairfield.

The Amcor paper recycling mill in Fairfield.

Delays caused by negotiations to widen the notorious Chandler Highway traffic bottleneck are putting pressure on developers of the former Amcor paper mill site in Fairfield.

Developers Glenvill and Alpha Partners were forced to resubmit draft plans for the site after VicRoads intervened mid-year, seeking to acquire a portion of the land to widen Chandler Highway.

“These unexpected and lengthy delays have put pressure on the contractual deadlines that the site proponents have with Amcor, including triggers for superlot sub-divisions and trunk infrastructure completion of certain stages by December 2015,” a council report suggests.

The Chandler Highway bridge is one of Melbourne’s main east-west Yarra River crossings and becomes snarled frequently in peak-hour traffic.

Its unpopularity with motorists prompted the newly elected Labor government to promise voters a $110 million upgrade of the bridge, with two more lanes.

Alpha Partners, run by former Macquarie bank executive Guy Nelson, and Glenvill paid $120 million to Amcor last year for development rights of the 16.5-hectare prime riverside property, which fronts Chandler Highway and Heidelberg Road.

Glenvill founder Len Warson said VicRoads’ intervention had held up the project.

“We’re in the middle of negotiations. We’re getting the land valued that they’re looking to acquire. We’re awaiting that,” Mr Warson said.

The development consortium has started to demolish the large factory on the site but will be forced to spend millions of dollars to clean up contaminated land.

The billion-dollar paper-mill project, which is one of Melbourne’s largest infill developments, will include 2720 new dwellings housing up to 4800 residents, plans show.

They also show a large retail centre with 20,000 square metres of floor space for supermarkets and speciality retailers. That is much larger than originally proposed, which has prompted a council review of its suitability as a neighbourhood activity centre.

The site will also house 12,500 square metres of office space, documents show.

Other key proposals include:

An integrated community facility and 80-place early learning centre.

A 180-place prep to year 2 school.

5 per cent of housing (135) for affordable homes.

4.5 per cent of the site for a new riverside park, an industrial heritage plaza, two parks and a piazza.

There are doubts about funding for the school and affordable housing proposals and they might not be developed.

Nearby, work has started on the four-stage Hemingway project, which will turn a 9160-square-metre site on the corner of Perry Street and Heidelberg Road, formerly the run-down Jika International Hotel, into multi-level luxury homes.

The $47.5 million, 55 two- and three-bedroom townhouses developed by Tim Gurner sold within weeks.

Read More →

Woolworths will roll out a new convenience concept store at 160 Swanston Street. Woolworths will roll out a new convenience concept store at 160 Swanston Street.
Shanghai night field

Woolworths will roll out a new convenience concept store at 160 Swanston Street.

Woolworths will roll out a new convenience concept store at 160 Swanston Street.

Retail heavyweight Woolworths has made its first land grab, as it rolls out its new convenience store strategy in Melbourne.

The retail giant has signed up for two CBD locations on Swanston and Flinders streets for the scaled-down stores, prompted by a wave of new apartment and office-block-conversion dwellers living in the central city.

Woolworths will roll out a new convenience concept store at 160 Swanston on a gross rent believed to be around $2030 a square metre in a deal negotiated by Allard Shelton’s Patrick Barnes and CBRE.

Another deal is understood to have been negotiated by Colliers International for 700 square metres at 262 Flinders Street in a space occupied previously by an IGA store.

The fully fitted shop has links to Melbourne’s famed Degraves Street.

Woolworths was coy when asked about its strategy to take over smaller city retail spaces.

“Our stores vary in size and are designed to best meet the needs of the community they serve,” was all a Woolworths spokeswoman would say.

Last week it opened a small concept store at 302 Elizabeth Street in Sydney.

It was modelled on another in Crown Street, Woolloomooloo, the original template for the Woolworths Small Format branded corner-store push.

The supermarket behemoth plans to ramp up its rollout in both cities with stores that offer a limited range of products and act as feeders for its medium-line Woolies Metro outlets like the one in Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station.

Agents say the group is looking for multiple sites between 200 and 400 square metres in size.

Woolworths and competitor Coles regard central-city neighbourhoods as big growth areas.

Their push to cater for the shopping needs of city dwellers has followed the rapid expansion of another Sydney-based convenience store chain and competitor, EzyMart.

EzyMart will open its fifth Melbourne store this year, after signing a lease on the corner of Queen and Little Collins.

Savills Australia’s Michael Di Carlo said new store followed the success of its other CBD offerings.

“EzyMart is very well established in Sydney and is now making its presence felt in Melbourne, with several recent store openings,” he said.

The push by the big retailers is likely to hurt traditional smaller-format operators like 7-Eleven and IGA and comes amid concerns from suppliers about the large retailers’ misuse of market power.

Read More →

Sea turtle hatchlings will draw thousands to Mon Repos near Bundaberg. Photo: Paul HarrisTurtle power has been on display up the Queensland coast as shelled reptiles young and old entered or re-entered the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem.
Shanghai night field

Izzy, a 120-kilogram green sea turtle, spent a year in hospital at the Reef HQ Aquarium after she was attacked by a crocodile and hit by a boat.

Her release back to the wild coincided with the start of turtle hatching season down the coast at Bundaberg.

Reef HQ Aquarium director Fred Nucifora said most turtles needed to be rehabilitated for up to six months, but Izzy’s injuries meant her stay was more than a year.

Izzy and 53.4-kilogram Evie, who was found stranded in mangroves in July, were released in Bowen, where they both were found.

“Our staff develop connections with our turtles but we know our end game is to see them go back fit and healthy into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park,” Mr Nucifora said.

“So while the release day is tinged with a touch of sadness, it’s more happiness when we see them go back.”

One of those staff members was turtle carer Krystal Huff, who helped nurse both Izzy and Evie back to health prior to their release in the waters off Bowen.

“The green sea turtles are actually loyal to a feed ground and a breeding ground and they will swim between these two,” she said.

“So we have brought them back to Bowen where they were found, hoping that this is very close to their feeding ground, so they can just go back to their normal life, without having to swim all the way here.”

A satellite tag has been attached to Izzy so researchers can follow her progress.

Down the coast on Mon Repos beach near Bundaberg, tiny loggerhead turtles have started to make their way into the world.

Thousands of visitors are expected to travel to Mon Repos Regional Park, the largest turtle rookery in the South Pacific, to see the hatchlings as they emerge from the rookery and take on the surf for the first time.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service ranger-in-charge Cathy Gatley said the first turtle tracks were spotted last month.

Already, 180 loggerheads and three flatback turtles had arrived to lay their clutches of eggs.

Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism general manager Rick Matkowski said he hoped more than 28,000 would visit the rookery this season.

“There is no better place in Australia to experience this extraordinary natural encounter, so we expect this to be a huge drawing card for tourists, both locally and internationally,” he said.

“The opportunity to get up close and personal with these amazing creatures is once-in-a-lifetime for most people, but witnessing them lay eggs, or even watching the first breaths of a hatchling, is jaw-dropping.”

Last season, 372 loggerheads, 12 flatbacks and two green turtles came ashore at Mon Repos.

Rookery tours at Mon Repos will run until March 22, 2015.

Read More →

Sydney siege gunman Man Haron Monis allegedly incited his partner Amirah Droudis to murder his ex-wife Noleen Hayson Pal, court documents reveal.
Shanghai night field

The documents also show that in 2011 Monis told police he had a gun licence – the first suggestion of how the 50-year-old may have obtained the weapon used in the fatal siege.

Police say Ms Pal, 30, was stabbed repeatedly and then set alight in the stairwell of her Werrington home on April 21, 2013.

Seven months later, in October, Monis was charged with inciting, procuring, aiding and counselling Ms Droudis to murder Ms Pal, who died between 4.15 and 4.30pm.

He was also charged with assisting and harbouring Ms Droudis after the murder.

A month later, in November, Ms Droudis was charged with murder.

The pair appeared in court on November 15, 2013 and Monis did not apply for bail and it was formally refused. He was granted bail on December 12, 2013, but he remained in custody as he was unable to meet his bail conditions.

The self-styled sheikh was also charged with sexually assaulting seven women under the guise of “spiritual healing” sessions over more than a decade.

Court documents show Monis was accused of dozens of sexual offences including sexual intercourse without consent, touching the complainants’ breasts, and rubbing their bodies with oil between 2002 and 2014.

Monis was running “Spiritual Consultation”, a registered business, and the alleged assaults took place in a number of suburbs around Sydney including Wentworthville, Burwood and Liverpool.

Monis, who was charged under his alias Mohammad Manteghi, was freed from custody after Soula Droudis, the mother of Amirah Droudis, posted $1000 bail.

It wasn’t the first time Monis and his partner had come in contact with the law.

Seven years ago Monis was charged with sending “offensive and deplorable letters” to grieving families of the soldiers as well as the family of an Austrade official killed in Indonesia.

In August last year, he reluctantly pleaded guilty to 12 counts of using a postal service to send the “harassing or offensive” letters and was sentenced to a two-year good behaviour bond and 300 hours of community service.

Droudis pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting him.

The documents also reveal that two years before Ms Pal was murdered, in July 2011, Monis was charged with stalking and intimidating her.

Court documents show that police accused Monis of stalking or intimidating with intent to cause fear of physical or mental harm at Hinchinbrook in south west Sydney.

During an interview with police in relation to this incident, Monis said that he had a firearms licence or a “shooters licence”, though at one point he said this licence was no longer valid.

However Monis was found not guilty of the stalking offence after a hearing.      

Read More →

Any successful hostess worth her cheese and crackers will tell you that preparation, presentation, and picking just the right frock are key to throwing a five-star Christmas party. What to wear
Shanghai night field

Relieve yourself of the inevitable sartorial stress that comes with hosting a party, and pre-plan your outfit well ahead of time. Think simple and chic, and look for the right dress that suits your shape and aesthetic, is easy to run around in and can bear the odd gravy stain or two. Dresses are the most efficient for no-brainer chic. An elegant satin sheath, sequined silk mini dress or metallic maxi screams party. If you wear the pants, choose an equally effortless summer jumpsuit in a print or luxe fabric like silk, lace or georgette. Team with statement jewellery – jewelled cuff, ropes of pearls, glittering chandelier earrings or a cool ear cuff. Add an evening sandal, or glamourous lamé pump, and finish with a well-applied red lip and you are there. See and smell

Dress your house as stylishly as you are, decking your halls with garlands of fresh flowers, vintage decorations or handmade paper chains courtesy of the kids. For the super-organised, chic sites like missbunting上海龙凤 or thebespokery上海龙凤 are a great go-to for cool decals, glinting gold tassels and pretty paper garlands. Channel your inner-Martha Stewart and spritz pine cones with cinnamon-scented oil. Light scented candles that remind you of Christmas past, opting for nostalgic scents like fruit and flowers with rich base notes of musk, oak and cedar. Throw together your own potpourri, filling glass bowls with a pretty concoction of cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, bright dried orange slices and nutmeg, and place in every room. Sip

Christen your favourite festive tipple this year’s official Christmas cocktail. Instead of creating one at a time, choose a classic like sangria, margarita or a fruit daiquiri, and create one large batch in advance. If using fresh fruit, be sure to make on the day of the party; any earlier and it will spoil. For non-drinkers, try a virgin bellini, a perfectly pretty party drink, prepared easily with two parts each of peach juice and sparkling apple cider. Listen

Compile your own party playlist well ahead of time. For the musically challenged, or those in dire need of some fresh inspiration, try an online music streaming service (try Spotify, Soundcloud or Buddha Radio) and be rest assured that your music is super-cool and expertly chosen. Eat

Prepare food ahead of your guests arriving – that dress does not deserve to be stuck behind the stove. For a stand-up affair, keep food perfectly bite-sized, and on high rotation. Prepare a mixture of hot and cold bite-sized morsels – blinis piled with creme fraiche, roast beef and cornichons, oysters with mignonette, cheese beignets, fresh prawns, crab cakes and savoury tartlets make for a delicious party menu. Finish the evening on a sweet note, with mini-desserts that are a cinch to serve – Christmas pudding ice cream cones, gingerbread trifles or a croquembouche tower of caramel-dipped, cream-filled pastry puffs wrapped in a sugary web. Treat the late-stayers with a midnight supper of Christmas ham glazed with cloves, quince jelly and Dijon mustard. Serve in soft, fresh bread rolls alongside some good condiments, then toss everyone out and be thankful you remembered to buy tomorrow morning’s breakfast. You have earned it.

Read More →

Cars, housing and agent fees raise salary cap questionsGlory made Marinkovic, Thwaite marquee players to avoid salary cap breach
Shanghai night field

Undisclosed agent fees, cars for players’ use and free accommodation are behind the allegations that Perth Glory have broken the FFA’s strict salary cap guidelines for up to three consecutive seasons.

Documents seen by Fairfax Media show the Glory has not declared a number of payments or service agreements in their annual reporting to the Football Federation of Australia.

In the 2012-13 financial year, at least 15 individual payments with a combined sum of $50,602 to several football agents for transfers, contract negotiations and scouting were not accounted for in the club’s annual A-League player contract register. There is also evidence of undeclared player agent fees relating to the 2011-12 season when they reached the A-League grand final.

The documents also confirm Perth Glory had at least 18 cars on their books in Season 2013-14. It is understood at least half of those cars were used as an incentive to recruit and retain players who were provided with vehicles for the duration of their time at the club but were not included in the salary cap.

Most cars were provided by private sponsors or rented and it is understood they were valued at approximately $20,000 each.

Sources allege the practice was also in place for accommodation allowances in 2012-13. Some players’ had the cost of their entire stay in Perth provided by the club but that was not included in the report, as required.

Some amendments were made for the 2013-14 season to provide more transparency, with at least two foreign players listed as having their accommodation provided by the club for a combined sum of $48,000. Though at least one other accommodation deal was not reported that season.

The A-League salary cap regulations stipulate that all third-party service agreements must be declared to the FFA. These include motor vehicles, accommodation not including in relocation, sign-on fees, performance bonuses, airfares, health insurance and player agent fees.

Fairfax Media revealed on Tuesday that Perth Glory shifted two of their highest earners onto marquee contracts in order to meet the forecasted salary cap of $2.55 million for this season. Their first two matches of the FFA Cup and A-League season were played before FFA approved the new contracts that will prevent the club exceeding the salary cap by June 30, 2015.

Read More →

Documents show Glory payments outside capGlory made Marinkovic, Thwaite marquee players to avoid salary cap breach
Shanghai night field

When Perth Glory brought former Blackburn Rovers player Jamie Maclaren to the A-League on July 1, 2013, they made sure he could settle quickly in his new home in Western Australia. He was given a three-year contract that offered stability along with clauses providing him with pathways to go back to Europe if the opportunity arrived. On top of this, the club arranged for accommodation for the length of his entire contract to allow for a smooth transition back to Australia. The only problem was that Perth Glory didn’t declare the accommodation to the Football Federation of Australia as part of their salary cap report.

This was one of many small yet significant omissions in a series of bungles that lead to Perth Glory failing to declare player agent fees, player accommodation and cars provided to members of the squad over three past seasons. There is no suggestion Jamie Maclaren or his agent did anything wrong.

Following revelations on Tuesday the club was on course to breaching this season’s salary cap before moving two of their highest paid players to marquee positions, Fairfax Media obtained documents suggesting the club did not disclose specific details relating to player benefits in past seasons. The period in question relates for three seasons; the 2011-12 when they reached the grand final, 2012-13 and 2013-14 A-League seasons. The club confirmed similar practices of player provisions still exist for many of the foreign players in their current squad. It is not alleged they haven’t reported it to the FFA this season.

The club was involved in practices of paying player agents directly for services such as contract negotiations, deal brokering as well as some listed as performing “scouting” duties. The practice of paying player agents directly does not breach salary cap regulations but must be reported and included in the salary cap alongside other signing fees such as contract sign-on bonuses.

In the 2012-13 A-League season, Perth Glory paid $50,602 to player agents for such services but nothing was listed in their final yearly report signed and submitted on May 6, 2013. Former chief operations officer John Broadman was at the club that season.

“Since I’ve been on board with Perth Glory, things have been fantastic in terms of how they’ve managed everything. Everything is done in an appropriate way, all due reporting with items submitted on the right time and duly acknowledged and signed off by the FFA,” Perth chief executive Jason Brewer said.

According to the documents, Perth Glory also failed to declare cars which were allocated to players for the 2013-14 season. Cars were used as part of a package to secure and recruit players to the club. It is believed that most foreign players were granted cars, as well as some Australian players.

It is understood there were 18 vehicles, at least half of which were allocated to players. These cars came from several different companies – one vehicle was obtained from both Barbagello Group and Midway Ford, six from Hyundai, and 10 from Europcar. The total value of the cars is understood to be valued at over $300,000. It is understood that cars were often provided to players only for the life of their contract with Perth Glory.

“With the cars which are provided, that’s a car pool… those cars are part of a central pool that are used there, that is for general club use [for non-playing staff as well]. That’s the applicable part of that,” Brewer said.

Some players were provided with accommodation for the entire stay at the club and was part of several players deals but was not always declared.

The club did not report any player accommodation to the FFA for the 2012-13 season. The following year the club declared two foreign players received club accommodation accounting to a combined sum of $48,000 but omitted one other. The club declared relocation fees for others approved by the FFA and exempted from the salary cap that season.

The current system of providing accommodation still exists this season but it is not alleged the club has failed to report it. When asked about accommodation provided for players, Brewer said;  “With a number of our international players, we obviously set out in the A-League standard player contracts, there is relocation that is applicable and they use some of that relocation to be contributed towards their accommodation… The relocation is specific amounts which is excluded from the salary cap provisions.”

Perth Glory confirmed accommodation was provided for Maclaren as per his contract.

“From what I understand, that house is a club house which was established before me coming on board. I think Jamie was signed the season before I, or during the off season before I, there’s a club house and that’s part of that,” Brewer said.

Last night, Damien de Bohun, the head of the A-League, said: “FFA has no current concerns about Perth Glory’s salary cap compliance, but we will always investigate any credible information provided to us about the operation of the salary cap.”

Questions that need to be answered:

Why were player agent fees not declared?

Documents seen by Fairfax Media show Perth Glory paid thousands of dollars worth of player-agent fees that were not declared to the Football Federation of Australia for the 2012-13 A-League season. These undisclosed fees are understood to total $50,602.

Why was at least one player agent paid a scouting fee?

The club paid at least one player agent a “scouting” fee in its 2012-13 season salary   cap report. A source close to the club alleges the agent did not perform the tasks associated with scouting, but rather performed standard player agent work.

Why were accommodation costs for at least one player mentioned in emails but not disclosed to the FFA?

Jamie Maclaren was brought to the club on a three-year deal before the 2013-14 season, allegedly with the promise that his accommodation would be paid for by the club. That was not declared to the FFA in the salary cap report. It is understood Maclaren still lives in the accommodation, which is said to be owned by the club.

Why did the club fail to declare cars that were allocated to players in the 2013-14 A-League season?

It is understood 18 cars were rented by the club from several different providers and at least half of these cars were used to attract players to the club. It is believed most of the foreign players were provided with cars as well as a few of the locals.

Why did the club shift two of its highest earners to marquee positions at the beginning of this A-League season to avoid breaching the  cap?

Perth Glory played two games in the FFA Cup and two games in the 2014-15 A-League season with a squad that would have exceeded the  cap for that season.

Read More →

Tight fit: Traditional festive excess means you could be shopping for a new pair of jeans in the new year sales. Tight fit: Traditional festive excess means you could be shopping for a new pair of jeans in the new year sales.
Shanghai night field

Tight fit: Traditional festive excess means you could be shopping for a new pair of jeans in the new year sales.

Tight fit: Traditional festive excess means you could be shopping for a new pair of jeans in the new year sales.

Christmas is the one day (OK, week) we all get a leave pass and it’s a foodie free-for-all.

We’re not going to tell anyone not to overindulge because a day of splurging here or there is fun and frankly it’s uncelebratory not to.

But what exactly does it do to our innards and how much do we really have to do to compensate for the feasting?

Grab a glass of champers (because let’s face it, you might need one to swallow this) and let’s take a look.

First the pros:

We can rejoice and be merry that we, of sunshiney Christmases, tend to have a healthier spread than our ‘traditional’ Christmas counterparts.

We’re far more likely to have seafood platters and salads (along with the cheese and mince pies). So bottoms up to that.

Second, we don’t want to be Christmas killjoys, so when we’re looking at kilojoules consumed, let’s be glass half-full about it and come up with celebratory ways to work them off. Like sex, which burns about 1250 kilojoules an hour (and we all have hour long sex sessions, right?). Or the chicken dance, which burns a finger-licking good 2500 kilojoules an hour.

Or you can just go for a jog (five kilometres will burn off about 1105 kilojoules) – and let’s face it, there are some freaks among us who find running fun.

Finally, there is goodness to be had in many of our favourite festive foods.

Take the obligatory cheese plate for instance. Organic dairy contains omega-3 fatty acids, which can help alleviate joint pain, boost your mood and lower levels of the kind of fat that causes heart disease.

Seafood is also high in omega-3s, which our bodies need for optimal functioning, as well as other vitamins and minerals. It is also low in kilojoules and fat but high in protein, so it’s satiating.

Ham off the bone is healthier than processed ham in the packet and is packed with iron and protein, while  turkey (depending on how you take it) can be a lean meat stuffed with protein and omega-3s.

Add to this spread some green vegies (well, we used to have tinned asparagus as the ‘greens’ at my gran’s Christmas Day lunch, which were really more flaccid, mossy ‘browns’, but still…), some roast potatoes, which can lower blood pressure and contain fibre in their skin along with a splash of gravy (kidding – there’s absolutely nothing healthy in gravy) and Christmas is looking pretty cracking, hold the crackling (there’s absolutely nothing healthy in that either).

Or is it.


Our stomachs can hold about one litre, but when we fill them to the brim, it puts pressure on them and the surrounding organs.

Carbonated drinks – beer, champagne, soft drinks, exacerbate this effect because the air fills up more space in our stomachs than the liquid itself. And like there was any more room to fill after the food smorgasbord.

Add to these the excess secretion of stomach acid to break down all the food and it can irritate our belly’s lining and can rise up into the oesophagus. Hello, heartburn and dinner repeating itself.

Separate to this, the American Chemical Society explains, the hormones released to remind you that you’re full. Really, really full, can make you feel sick.

Now we know, and we’ve done it anyway, what do we do about it?

Let’s just assume for a moment that Christmas lunch or dinner. Christmas lunch AND dinner, will include a pretty spread of leg ham or turkey with cranberry sauce, accompanied by side salads or roast vegetables, cheese and bread, followed by pudding or pavlova,

Pudding AND pavlova.

Here’s what you’re looking at:

Gobble gobble

85 grams (or a pretty standard serving size) of roast turkey with its skin is about 644 kilojoules.

Whack some gravy on your meat and at about 500 kilojoules a cup, it’s about the same number of kilojoules as the meat itself.

All up, that’s just shy of a five-kilometre run, followed by a (super) quickie.


Six slices of leg ham is about 1290 kilojoules.

That’s a prescription of one hour of… sex.


In 100 grams of roast potatoes you are looking at 623 kilojoules. Shake it off with half an hour of shagging.


One glass of champagne is about 355 kilojoules.

Naturally, we’ll be having six which will fuel us nicely for our 50-odd minutes of chicken dancing.


One cup of cooked prawns is just 636 kilojoules but add in a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise (570 kilojoules) and that’s pretty perfectly one hour of sex right there.

Cheese platter

According to Real Simple, the perfect cheese platter includes aged, soft, firm and blue cheeses, with about 115 grams of cheese per person.

Pop some quince paste and and crackers on your plate too and we’re looking at about 2234 kilojoules.

For this delicious transgression you shall run for five kilometres,which will warm you up for a steamy sex session lasting just shy of an hour or do the chicken dance for 50 minutes.

OH GOD – and the list keeps going.

Next up is dessert  A small slice of  Christmas cake (50 grams) is 755 kilojoules or a more substantial slice of Christmas pudding (100 grams) is about 1420 kilojoules. We’re not even talking brandy butter here. Hmmm brandy butter. Pavlova per slice is about 1369 kilojoules per decadent slice.

That, dear Christmas kin, is starting to hurt our heads. It is also – assuming you have pud AND pav, equivalent to about a 10-kilometre jog (you’ll be way too full to run at this point) and about 25 minutes of sex.

And if after all the shagging and jogging and eating and drinking and chicken dancing you don’t need a sleep (and a holiday)  then you deserve a drink and for Santa to man-up and do the chicken dance for you.

Read More →