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June 18 - 24, 2010 news
Pace of change
Adelaide-based software company
VersaDev was one of nine local
businesses to exhibit at this
year's CommunicAsia event held
in Singapore this week. VersaDev
joint managing directors Warren
Bullock and David Fennessy may
have been amazed at the 60,000
business buyers who attended the
huge exhibition which was this year
dominated by the iPad. Brief Case can
still remember the amazed expression
on Singapore's Communications
Minister Mah Boh Tan's face in
1998 when an enthusiastic exhibitor
showed him a "computer that
can connect to the internet global
computer network". We'll report next
week on how the VersaDev lads went.
Local philanthropists the Ramsay
family have donated $140,000
to save our State's disintegrating
newspapers. The State Library of
South Australia has received the
donation. Well known for her support
of the arts, Diana Ramsay, on a
recent visit to the State Library's
Preservation studio, took a particular
interest in the newspaper collection
from the 19th century. A project
phased over three years has been
established which will result in the
long-term preservation of 12 South
Australian newspaper titles at high
risk of disintegration.
Keep on truckin
Second hand prices for prime movers
might take a dip in the next couple
of months with two major transport
companies going under and receivers
moving to auction off their fleets.
Queensland based Rotole Pty Ltd's 41
prime movers went under the hammer
this week while SA based Fletcher's
Freighters have another 77 prime
movers to flog off. Fletcher's auctions
started in Victoria this week, move to
NSW and Qld later this month before
the big one at Berri on July 6-7 where
50 prime movers, 101 trailers and
more are on the block.
The Fiveaa announcement last week
that they had secured former Channel
Nine sales manager Sean O'Brien
as their new general manager has
ruffled a few feathers. The release
claimed Channel Nine's sales team
"was consistently ranked as the
number one television sales team".
By whom, and on what basis, it did
not say. But Channel Seven has sent
us the Neilsen AdEx annual ratings
for the last ten years which show
Seven as numero uno, based on
local sales. An industry insider tells
us the competition between all three
commercial networks is as tough as
its ever been.
Beach Energy's Reg Nelson writes
from Kapunda that PM Rudd's current
battle with miners on the extra profits
tax is not just a case of "big mining"
vs "big government". "As I recall, the
roots of the Labor movement were
born at the Eureka Stockade. And
wasn't that all about miners' rights
in the face of unjust authoritarian
government? Up here at Kapunda,
the first mining town in Australia,
you realize that mining is part of the
Australian psyche." Reg might be
onto something. History records that
the stockade was about economic
freedom as well as social rights. It
might explain the collapse in Labor's
vote in WA.
Adam's rise to top
"There is a market for local
providers to look after their own
Adam Internet has also had
success with partnering on
government contracts to reduce
broadband black spots.
The black spots have occurred
in areas where Telstra s copper
wire hasn t been able to cope
with the demand.
"What s happening is that we
are trying to overlay broadband
on a 50-year-old telephone
network," Scott explains.
With no five-year plan to rely
on, Scott and his father are
keeping a wary eye on where this
fast-paced business is heading.
"We figure that it pays to have
a good relationship with Telstra
because of their role in the
market and it pays to have a good
relationship with government.
"We re not sure where the NBN
rollout is heading, but we ve no
doubt that fibre-to-the-home is
the natural next step."
Adam s founder Greg Hicks
has taken a "next step" of his
own, becoming a tree-changer,
although he retains his position
as executive chairman of Adam
He s moved to the pristine
rolling hills of Oakbank and
developed a love of horses and
horse breeding after purchasing
a property from the Hayes racing
He is in daily touch with his
son, but only comes into the
business premises on King
William Street once a week.
He tells a good story to
demonstrate how price, capacity
and value have changed in the
past 25 years.
The JVC CD burners he sold in
the old days cost $75,000 each and
the blank discs were $120. Today
you could get both for $20.
A USB key he gave away
to attendees at the launch of
Adam s ADSL2 plans last year
were 8GB capacity.
"I told them that equivalent
drive capacity back in the early
days would have cost $34,000,
so we had given each of them
a $34,000 retrospective gift -- it
just wasn t worth that much
In so many ways Adam
Internet is still the same group
that shared interests in the
1980s -- it s just that the group got
bigger, the interests more diverse
and the horizons more exciting.
The house in Flagstaff Hill
with its ceiling high stacks of
modems and maze of patch cords
has been replaced by several
floors of a CBD building where
access to bandwidth is premium.
For the still young Scott Hicks,
it s the best hobby in town.
From Page 13
Funding freeze thaws
Local disability enterprises
are hopeful the Federal
Government will back down on
its funding freeze revealed in last
month s Federal Budget.
Meetings in the last two weeks
with Bill Shorten, parliamentary
secretary for Disabilities and
Children s Services have opened the
door for a shift in the Government s
The issue surfaced on Budget
night in May when disability
service representatives noticed
federal funding had been frozen
with no indexation for rising costs,
putting at risk many of the 20,000
jobs in the sector.
Australian Disability Enterprises
are not-for-profit organisations
that employ 20,000 Australians who
cannot sustain employment in the
open labour market.
In South Australia -- close to 3000
people are employed. Most have an
intellectual or learning disability.
They work in industries as diverse
as packaging, manufacture,
horticulture and hospitality.
The Federal Government
provides funding to these organisa-
tions which is supplemented by
When the funding for 2010-11 was
announced the organisations were
National Disability Services
chairman Max Dyason, who also
runs Bedford Industries in South
Australia, said the freeze put
pressure on organisations at a
"Many of these groups were
hit hard in the global financial
crisis with a reduction in or loss
of contracts and sales around 9 per
cent," Mr Dyason said.
"That reduced our business
income and now the federal funding
reduction adds to that in the face of
rising costs and wages."
He estimated the impact on
Bedford at around $200,000 in the
coming financial year.
"A lot of families have come to
us concerned about the ongoing
employment prospects for their
disabled family member, but we
have told them we will dip into our
cash reserves for the moment."
Mr Dyason was hopeful meetings
in Canberra with Mr Shorten would
open the way for a reversal of the
Mr Shorten told The Independent
Weekly negotiations were continu-
"Concerns have been raised
with me by Australian Disability
Enterprises about the impact of
the budget on their operations," Mr
"I am taking these concerns
seriously, which is why I met with
them in Canberra to try and find
a way we can better support them
over the coming year.
"These negotiations will continue
and I hope we can find a solution
that eases their concerns.
"The Howard Government gave
ADEs a temporary increase in
funding of 5 per cent. However it
neglected to include this release
in the forward estimates, so this
package ceases from June 30, 2010.
"This left a funding shortfall of
nearly $9 million that the Rudd
Government had to find in a very
tight fiscal environment."
Family members said they were
outraged at the unannounced
funding freeze and had started their
own letter and email campaign.
"What sort of government freezes
the wages of disabled workers at
such a difficult economic time,"
said one father who asked to remain
"Bill Shorten used to be the head
of the ACTU and I doubt he would
have ever countenanced any sort of
wage freeze, let alone in this sector.
"We are asking families of
anyone affected by this to write to
their local MP and to the Treasurer
to demand a reversal of the
Disability employment providers
in SA who have been affected
include Bedford, Orana, Phoenix,
Minda, Barkuma, Hands on SA,
SAGE/Imprint, Royal Society for
the Blind, Barossa Enterprises and
Product Action. Between them they
employ about 3000 people.
Disabilities parliamentary secretary Bill Shorten, shown here at a conference of state ministers for disability services, is feeling
the heat from funding cuts to the sector.
Photo: Joe Armao
GRAINCORP LIMITED (GNC)
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural & Resource Economics
on Wednesday upgraded a production forecast for the nation's
2010-11 winter crops to 22.1 million metric tons from a
March estimate of 21.9 million tons.
Actual output last crop year ended March 31, 2010, was
pegged at 21.7 million tons. Barley production this crop year
now is forecast at 7.3 million tons, down from an estimate
of 8.0 million tons in March, Abare forecast in its quarterly
Total output of winter crops this crop year now is estimated
at 35.12 million tons, slipping from an actual 35.24 million
tons last crop year. The opening of the winter cropping
season in the Australian eastern states has been one of the
best for several years, Paul Morris, Abare deputy executive
director, said in a statement.
"Rainfall between March and May was the most widespread
above-average rainfall to be recorded over the eastern states
since 2003," he said. Given Graincorp is less impacted by
grain prices, and more impacted by grain volumes, this
should be positive for Graincorp.
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