Monthly Archives: March 2019

National Film and Sound Archive director Michael Loebenstein announces resignation after five years

National Film and Sound Archive CEO Michael Loebenstein has resigned after five years at the helm. Photo: Richard BriggsThe search is on for a new director of the National Film and Sound Archive, with the announcement Monday that chief executive Michael Loebenstein has resigned.

Mr Loebenstein will return to his native Austria to head up the Austrian Film Museum, where he worked prior to moving to Canberra five years ago.

During his time at the helm here, he steered the archive through tough financial times, which involved a sharp reduction in staff and funding, and cutting the signature weekly screening program at Arc Cinema.

But he also brought youthful vigour, European swagger and wide-ranging enthusiasm to the institution, overseeing the restoration of several classic Australian films, and a collaboration with international best-selling musician Gotye, whose sound and light installation brough more than 100,000 visitors to the archive’s art deco headquarters.

Speaking to Fairfax Media shortly after gathering staff together to announce his departure, Mr Loebenstein said he was confident he would be leaving the archive “in good shape”.

“I would never even have considered accepting an offer or even toying with the idea of going back to Europe if I had felt that I would let the NFSA or the larger sector of our Canberra collecting institutions down,” he said.

“And while the hardship in a way still continues because we are seeing government appropriations and the efficiency dividend is really weighing heavily on all of us there, I think we are more stable than we were a couple of years ago.

“I think that the organisation has gone through a process of renewal where we managed to take the best of the old days sort of people with the vast experience of decades and the ethos and the passion, and combine it with new and young and energetic people who’ve come in over the last years, so I must say I’m most sentimental these days.”

He said the NFSA had emerged as a leader in the digital collecting realm.

“We managed to just be part of the really good group of people across the cultural institutions, talking about the future of digital, and the need for Australia really to step up and look at digitising our heritage to connect our citizens,” he said.

“Personally I would say, we’ve managed to stir the pot in an inclusive and productive way.”

But he said he was excited to be returning to the Austrian Film Museum, which marked its 50th anniversary last year.

NFSA chairwoman Gabrielle Trainor said Mr Loebenstein had seen the archive into the digital age.

“Michael has led the NFSA during a time when we have made a giant leap forward towards our goal to become leader in the digital environment, and an engaging place for encounters with our amazing and diverse film and sound history,” she said.

“His time with us was marked by a significant reinvention of the NFSA into a more outwardly focused, collaborative institution which continues to collect, preserve, and more broadly share our film and sound treasures.”

Mr Loebenstein will head back to Vienna to face a European winter in January, and said he would miss the “extremely high-definition Canberra skies… both on a chilly day as well as on a really hot day”.

The NFSA board announced Monday it would conduct an international search for the archive’s new chief executive.

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Kriv Stenders to direct Go-Betweens documentary Right Here

Director Kriv Stenders, left, and producer Nelson Woss on the set of Blue Dog in Karratha. Photo: David Darcy The Go-Betweens c1988: (l-r) John Willsteed, Grant McLennan, Lindy Morrison, Robert Forster, Amanda Brown. Photo: Supplied

The busiest man in Australian film and television just got busier, with news that Kriv Stenders will follow his Red Dog sequel with a documentary on indie music darlings The Go-Betweens.

The feature-length doc, Right Here, will premiere at next year’s Sydney Film Festival.

Stenders, who is, like the band, a native of Brisbane, said the project had been “four decades in the making”.

“This is very much a dream project for me, as The Go-Betweens and their music have been a fundamental part of my life since I was 15 years old,” he said.

“To be able to tell and share their epic story and to have original members onboard with me is a thrill beyond definition.”

Stenders directed several music clips for the band, including one for their biggest hit, 1988’s Streets of Your Town. Incidentally, that song can currently be heard on ABC-TV as the theme music for the architectural history show of the same name presented by Tim Ross.

The Go-Betweens were formed in 1977 by Queensland University students Robert Forster and Grant McLennan, and were soon joined by Lindy Morrison on drums. Various others came and went over the years, but those three remained constants until the band broke up in late 1989, after six critically acclaimed but commercially disappointing albums.

In 2000, Forster and McLennan reformed the band, without Morrison and violinist-vocalist Amanda Brown, who had joined the band after its third album. They released three more albums before McLennan died in 2006, aged 48.

Robert Forster recently released a memoir, Grant & I, that detailed the evolution of the band, and especially his relationship with McLennan. He recently spoke to Fairfax about his continuing sense of loss over the death of his friend and artistic collaborator.

Of the documentary, Forster said: “Kriv Stenders is an artist in film and I am sure he will tell the story of The Go-Betweens with flair and precision.”

The question, though, is how will he find the time to do so?

Since the release of Red Dog in 2011, Stenders has barely stood still. Last year his genre thriller Kill Me Three Times was released, along with the four-part SBS drama The Principal.

In the past 12 months he has directed episodes of US sci-fi series Hunters, Australian TV series A Place to Call Home and Doctor Doctor, the sequel Red Dog: True Blue, which is due in cinemas on Boxing Day, and the dramatic feature Australia Day.

He is also now working on a two-part TV adaptation of Wake in Fright, due to screen on Ten in 2017.

Karl Quinn is on facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on twitter @karlkwin

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Ivana Trump wants to be US ambassador to the Czech Republic

Ivana Trump has expressed an interest in taking a role under her ex-husband’s presidency.

Speaking to the New York Post on Sunday, the president-elect’s first wife said she would like to be appointed as the US ambassador for the Czech Republic.

“I will suggest that I be ambassador for the Czech Republic,” she said.

“[That] is where I’m from and my language and everybody knows me.”

Trump, a former model who left then-Czechoslovakia in 1973, was married to Donald Trump from 1977 to 1992.

The pair have three children together, Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric, who were all heavily involved in their father’s campaign.

Following the couple’s separation, Trump left her role in the Trump Organisation (she had been her husband’s “Vice President of Interior Design”) and went on to write a number of novels and release jewellery and clothing lines.

In 2010, she finished seventh on Celebrity Big Brother in the UK.

If appointed to the role, Trump will (bizarrely) not be the first celebrity to make a late-in-life career change towards representing the interests of the US in Prague: the late Shirley Temple was US ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992, after previously performing a three-year stint as the country’s ambassador to Ghana.

In her interview with the Post, Trump expressed relief that he ex-husband’s election campaign was over.

“I had the problems with The New York Times, who sued me to try to reopen my divorce documents from 26 years ago. And I’m not running for president of the United States. I’m just a citizen, and I have a right for privacy. I had enough of that,” she said.

She also provided a bit of an insight into what Donald Trump may be like as president, claiming he “only sleeps three hours a night” and doesn’t like travelling.

“Donald is like a good French wine. He doesn’t like to be moved and travelled,” she said. “The last 18 months, he travelled as much as he ever has in his life. Thank God he has his private plane, but still, it was brutal.”

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Harvey Norman boss Gerry Harvey has a message for short seller: ‘Piss off!’

Gerry Harvey’s company has written off over half a billion dollars worth of loans to its franchisee network since 2011. Photo: Peter Rae Harvey Norman’s dividend was up by 77 per cent, or 3.5¢ a share. Photo: Josh Robenstone

Gerry Harvey gave an emphatic rebuttal of allegations the retailer is not paying its fair share of taxes, and it is hiding problem loans as so-called “tactical support”. Photo: Ben Rushton

Sydney real estate agent John McGrath Photo: Edwina Pickles

Retail billionaire Gerry “Trump” Harvey has a message for the foreign short seller he blames for the “hearsay and rumours” that have recently plagued the company: “Piss off!”

The Harvey Norman executive chairman gave a voluble – rather than emphatic – rebuttal of allegations that the retailer’s financial relationship with its franchisees is not entirely transparent, and it is hiding problem loans as so-called “tactical support”.

“It has been started by a short seller … he’s been trying to disrupt our company,” he told a packed shareholder meeting at the Sydney Tattersalls club on Monday.

It was all kicked off by the retailer’s latest annual report, which contained the surprise that it has loans totalling $943 million to its franchisees and had written off $566 million of those loans – what it calls “tactical support” – since 2011.

He warned his audience that stooges for the short seller might ask questions at the meeting.

“If you are here, please get up and piss off!”

With regard to the allegations, Harvey said: “If you think that we are upset about it you’re absolutely right.”

Harvey managed to offer his usual advice to any investors who are queasy about his forays into unrelated businesses such as mining camp “dongles” and dairy – “they should sell their shares”.

This might explain why there do not appear to be any institutional investors on the Harvey Norman register. Trumped up

Nobody put up their hand and owned up to being a “stooge” for Harvey’s short seller – who might be based in Singapore.

But the ASA’s representative, Allan Goldin – who dared ask Harvey why he doesn’t privatise Harvey Norman if he is not prepared to run it as a public company – was a useful substitute.

“If you’re telling me I’m not looking after shareholders you’ve got a loose cog in your head,” Harvey told Goldin.

To which he later added: “I’ve answered your stupid questions.”

And as investors were voting on the remuneration report, Harvey added one final insult to the North American-born Goldin: “Did you vote for Donald Trump?” he asked.

Goldin is Canadian.

“I didn’t vote for Trudeau either,” replied Goldin. Boarding call

That “renovator’s delight” of the real estate sector – John McGrath’s McGrath Ltd – has parachuted in some fresh board members with the required skill set to patch up this IPO disaster.

The new bodies will help the company through a tough patch as another board member, Daniel Petre, bales out after the company’s AGM this month.

“I am very sorry to have to leave the McGrath board, but have to ensure I get back more time to focus on AirTree’s expansion,” Petre said of his expanding tech venture capital fund.

One of the new directors is Cath Rogers – one of Petre’s business partners at AirTree.

The other is Nigel Dews. He once ran Fairfax Media’s loss-making digital arm, F2, and went on to run Hutchison’s loss-making 3G mobile operator.

Dews survived the subsequent merger with Vodafone to become the local boss when it went through its Vodafail phase.

“Some of you have experienced dropped calls, delayed SMS and voicemails, slow data speeds, inconsistent coverage and long waiting times when you’ve called us,” Dews said in a memorable video message published on Vodafone’s website when Vodafail was in full swing.

So he is eminently well qualified when it comes to dealing with challenged businesses.

Petre had a good pep talk for his fellow McGrath investors.

“The real estate industry is facing similar changes to service-based industries globally, driven largely by technology and I am delighted Cath and Nigel will assist it [sic] navigate its future,” he said. Fired up

Celebrity Apprentice star Mark Bouris is really rolling up the sleeves to fix up his wealth management group, Yellow Brick Road.

Bouris announced to the ASX that he stepped down as chairman of biotech, Anteo Diagnostics, immediately before its shareholder meeting on Monday.

“Anteo has executed significant changes this last 12 months that will stand it in good stead for the future,”  Bouris said.

“My professional commitments with Yellow Brick Road and TZ Ltd have broadened in recent weeks, and relinquishing my role with Anteo Diagnostics allows me invest [sic] more time into these companies.”

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Chris Waller attempts to find another group 1 winner with fresh trio at Ascot

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The nature of Chris Waller’s training method allows him to take Good Project, Vanbrugh and Mackintosh fresh and ready to add another group 1 or two to the stable’s tally to close the year in Perth.

While the preparation wasn’t structured to target the Ascot group 1s, the carnival was always available for them if the trio were racing well.

“We are taking a good hand over there. Good Project is back to defend the Railway Stakes he won last year and the two races stack up well for Vanbrugh and Mackintosh,” Waller said.

“The Kingston Town [Stakes over 1800m] is probably a better option for Vanbrugh, while I think Mackintosh will be competitive in both races.”

Waller has booked Hugh Bowman to ride Good Project, with Ben Melham on Vanbrugh and Damien Oliver on Mackintosh for the group 1 mile at Ascot on Saturday. The trio arrive early in their preparation considering they raced at group 1 level at their last starts at Flemington.

Mackintosh and Good Project both had excuses as they finished fifth and seventh respectively in the Cantala Stakes at Flemington and will have the fourth run of their preparation in Perth.

Good Project looks to be in similar form to when he was too good for the West Australians last year. He has overcome a splint-bone injury he suffered in the Doncaster this year and is building into his preparation.

“That is why he was a bit later coming back,” Waller said. “The plan was to be at his top third-up for the Cantala [Stakes] and this is the obvious step after it. He is still pretty fresh and not tired at all.”

Good Project never really got a clear run in the mile at Flemington and Waller believes he can complete the Railway double

“He was beaten by Malaguerra last year, this time he was beaten by bad luck before going over there,” Waller said.

“Zac Purton rode in the Cantala and said he should have finished at least third but he just got held up on the inside.”

While Good Project couldn’t find a run in the Cantala, Mackintosh did all the work sitting three-wide without cover and carting winner Le Romain into the group 1. He was game to hold on and ran fifth.

His three runs this preparation have all been outstanding: he resumed by winning the Theo Marks Stakes before being third in the blanket finish to the Epsom and the fifth at Flemington.

“I think he is the perfect horse for both the races over there,” Waller said. “He was outstanding doing a lot of work in the Epsom and was tough last time.

“I spoke to Hughie [Bowman] after the Cantala and he just said: ‘That’s racing, I got on Mackintosh’s back and you gave me the run of the race’.

“He was just exposed a long run out but he has come through it very well and while he is going well it is the right time to have another go at a group 1.”

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Trentham ups the ante

Trenthamites unite: Trentham Community Forum Inc. secretary Ian MacBean, Trentham Recreation Reserve Committee of Management secretary/treasurer Georgie Patterson, Trentham Community Forum Inc. president Edward Weislitzer, Trentham Facilities Review Committee chair Andy Roberston and Trentham Business and Tourism Group secretary Helen Macdonald are calling on the Minister for Local Government to step in to address discrimination against Trentham and its community by Hepburn Shire Council.A group of Trentham residents representing nine community organisations is calling on the state government to step in to adjudicate Trentham’s longstanding ‘rate equity’ dispute with Hepburn Council.
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The group has written to Minister for Local Government, Natalie Hutchins, calling for an independent review to examine the council’s neglect of Trentham over the past 20 years.

Spokesperson Ian MacBean said the group was frustrated by the council’s continuing lack of serious action to address the demonstrated inequality Trentham suffered relative to other towns in Hepburn Shire.

“We have been asking for a fair go for years and we’re tired of being fobbed off with interminable working groups, more consultations and feasibility studies,” Mr MacBean said.

“We first raised the need for council to provide core community facilities similar to those in other towns in 2009.”

A ‘Fair Go for Trentham’ petition with more than 600 signatures was presented to council in early 2014.

“All we’ve seen is even more facilities being built in the other towns,” Mr MacBean said.

“What’s been especially frustrating is that council has never denied, or tried to refute, our claims – but they certainly won’t admit it.

“We understand that Trentham and Coliban Ward contribute more than 20 per cent of the shire’s total rate income, but analysis over many years show that we are getting less than five per cent of council’s discretionary project spend.

“Trentham needs an independent review to sort this injustice out once and for all.”

The group’s message has been heard loud and clear by local ward councillor and newly elected mayor Sebastian Klein, who ran on the platform of equity and made it clear in the run up to the mayoral vote that that would be his priority as mayor.

“It clearly signifies a deeply held view and experience from Trentham residents and I hope that it results in some really positive outcomes, things like systems that actually make it clear how council will acquit our responsibilities to each of the communities in the shire,” Cr Klein said.

Cr Klein said that for the first time since he had been on council, councillors who live in each of the wards had been elected.

“So there’s a great diversity of geographical representation as well as a range of skills and perspectives.

“I think that in each of their communities they’ve got a mind to provision of services to all of our residents and citizens,” he said.

* The Minister’s office had not responded to our questions at the time of going to press.

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Putting the cherry on top with export quality in domestic market

Fruit and vegetable retailer Harris Farms founder David Harris sent a clear message about varietal selection of cherries at a recent NSW Cherry Growers Association conference in Orange.CHERRY growers were sent a clear message to focus on larger, newer varieties which suited export at a recent conference held in Orange, because local buyers such as Harris Farms could match the price and were seeking the better quality fruit.
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Harris Farms founder, David Harris, spoke at the NSW Cherry Growers Association conference, A Fresh Approach a Pathway to Success. He has stepped back from chief executive officer to let his sons – Angus, Luke and Tristan – share the top role as co-ceos, and Mr Harris, who resides in the Megalong Valley with wife Cathy, and retains a close eye on the fruit and vegetable side of the business, is as excited as ever about the industry.

He saw export and domestic variety and quality requirements as being largely in lock-step, and with subdued expansion interest in Tasmania, he said things were looking up for NSW.

“I’ve been involved as a retailer for 40-plus years now and have watched massive changes in cherry growing and in particular the NSW part of the industry,” he said.

He said 40 years ago, the industry would get excited about varieties such as the merchants and the burlaps and the early cherries from Young, but there was no longer a place for these soft, early varieties. The likes of the Hillstons and the Narromines have now taken that space, which he said was better for the industry.

“We don’t start our customers off on something that gives them a bad result. What we start them with now is really good cherries that have flavour and last a while… and that’s probably the biggest change I’ve watched over the years,” he said, with the exception of the emergence of exports. He said the growth of exports had changed the cherry landscape forever.

“A couple of years ago everybody got excited when 20 per cent of the cherries went overseas and it’s a lot more than that now.

“That presents a challenge for us – my cherry buyers – who are continually competing with the Asian markets. But that’s healthy too. Last year, overseas markets (50pc China and Hong Kong) took about $80 million worth of cherries.”

These export markets were quality focused, but the same fruit also suited Harris Farms’ shoppers. In contrast, he said the big supermarkets were more about price.

“They want to be able to sell at never more than $20/kg. It seems their favourite ticket is around $12.99/kg – they want to make a margin on that and it ain’t going to leave much for you guys.

“We don’t play very much in that space. We understand how the market works, but all we want is to have a fair go at some of that bigger, better fruit, and we can certainly match whatever the price is overseas.”

Punnets pose a cost concernPunnet packaging of cherries has caught on in supermarkets, but growers have raised concerns about the cost. They say punnets are a low margin option and the question was raised at a recent conference in Orange as to whether the big supermarkets should be challenged on this packaging. Growers felt punnets had been accepted because of big supermarket pressure.

However, Cherry Export Working Group chairman, Hugh Molloy, said growers would never be successful in challenging the supermarkets because it was suppliers who introduced the idea.

“(Supermarkets) say ‘we’ve been offered this by ‘X’ supplier’ and now they’re just buying what they’ve been offered,” Mr Molloy said. “It’s the growers and the packers mainly in Victoria that have caused the problem.”

Punnets meant suppliers were limited to a maximum of 400 kilograms of cherries in a pallet space, further reducing efficiency. Packaging was seen as an area where smaller retailers had an opportunity to present a better product.

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Pink plaster and the most wonderful people

THE child decided to fall off her bike and break her arm last week.
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After the poor possum had a week of ‘the virus going around Cleve at the moment’ I was cheering when she gaily stepped out of the house to travel with the Second Street Gang (other small people who live near by) on her trusty metal steed to ride to school.

I forgot to factor in she has similar tendencies as myself when it comes to balance and weight distribution, her bag overloaded her and before she had pushed one pedal she was ‘splatso’ in the back yard.

Being a standard mum, I immediately encouraged her to get back on the bike, but after she emitted another high pitched scream I realised it was possible there was serious damage.

An appointment was made with the doctor and we tromped in, ice pack, Lamby and Stripey the Rug in tow, after an assessment we trudged up the hill for an X-ray.

I promise there is a point to this story and it starts now.We have wonderful medical professionals in our districts.

I was slightly dishevelled, ahem, actually, I was rather frantic. Monday is my deadline day to finish off stories and get the paper ready to be assessed by my editor and I was worried about The Child.

But, walking through the doors of the hospital bought a sense of peace to me. I have been here over the years for many things, from unidentified substances in a full nappy (turns out it was an red napkin, quickly eaten by a crawling baby, not blood) to a broken ankle on an over zealous netballer… yes it did hurt and finally to my dear old dad spending his final days there.

To see the nurses step out, people you know are capable, kind and amazingly talented, brings relief to me every time I have lunged, ran or staggered up the steps of the hospital.

However, to The Child, hospital is equal to all veggies, cod liver oil and is not a good place.

Her attitude changed when upon her full plaster going on, the beautiful nursing staff had ordered in a ‘pink one’ for her.

She thought she was going to have ‘boring white’ and was very sad about it all. The staff who organised this have taken a child’s fear and changed it into a positive experience.So thank you to all you wonderful medical people in our community.

I am sure I will see you again in a professional capacity.

Trudi Herde-Rodda, journalist

Eyre Peninsula Tribune journalist Trudi Herde-Rodda

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