Sep 11

ANZ tops big four in home loan growth

Aggressive strategy: ANZ has increased its share of the Australian home loan market by 7.1 per cent. Photo: Josh RobenstoneANZ Bank continues to aggressively expand its mortgage book at the quickest pace of the big four, as the lender pumps more capital into its Australian home loan business.
Nanjing Night Net

As ANZ, NAB and Westpac rule off their annual accounts on Tuesday, new figures from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority showed ANZ’s home loan book grew by 7.1 per cent in annualised terms during August.

This compared with 5 per cent annualised growth for the Commonwealth Bank and NAB, and 2.7 per cent for Westpac, according to analysis from brokers at Macquarie.

ANZ, the smallest home lender of the big four, signalled earlier this year that it would put more capital into the $1.2 trillion mortgage market as profit margins in its international business come under growing pressure.

As part of the push, the bank has lowered its standard variable mortgage rate to 5.88 per cent, equalling NAB as the big bank offering the lowest advertised rate.

Westpac, in contrast, has been consistently losing share in the lucrative home loan market this year, a trend analysts blame on its decision to offer the highest standard variable rate of the big four.

There were few signs of improvement for Westpac in the latest figures, despite its decision to out-cut the Reserve Bank with an interest rate reduction of 0.28 percentage points. It still has the highest standard variable rate of the big four, at 5.98 per cent.

The numbers were published on September 30, which is the end of the financial year for ANZ, NAB and Westpac.

Weeks leading up to the end of the financial are often a time of heated competition for banks to sign up new borrowers, and this month the Reserve Bank has stepped up its warnings to banks to maintain “prudent” lending standards.

But other data published by the Reserve on Tuesday showed economy-wide credit growth remained relatively subdued in August.

The annual pace of housing credit growth edged up from 4.6 per cent to 4.7 per cent – still only slightly above a record low of 4.4 per cent.

Citi economists Paul Brennan said although new lending was growing strongly, it had not yet translated to credit growth because households were also paying off old loans quickly.

“So far at least it appears that the strengthening in the property market is being driven less by debt and more by cashed up buyers,” Mr Brennan said in a note.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Sep 11

Key calls loom for Leppitsch

Newly appointed Brisbane Lions coach Justin Leppitsch has some big decisions to make. Photo: Robert Prezioso/Getty ImagesNew Lions coach Justin Leppitsch will spend his first days on the job trying to settle his list for 2014, making a series of key decisions he believes will have a profound influence on Brisbane’s aspirations over the next three years.
Nanjing Night Net

Leppitsch was jovial and relaxed as he greeted the media at the Gabba for the first time as head coach, after he was given the role in place of former team-mate and close friend Michael Voss.

He has wasted little time in meeting and greeting Brisbane’s playing, football and administrative staff and has already had discussions with veterans Simon Black and Jonathan Brown, as well as a host of young players weighing up their future.

Leppitsch would no doubt love Black and Brown to stay for at least another season to provide some veteran leadership for a side that still relies on them for key contributions.

But he won’t press the pair to make a call before they are ready, with Black still getting medical advice and Brown deciding if he has the hunger for another testing campaign.

“We’ve had initial discussions. That will play out over the next few weeks. Blacky is still waiting on news from the surgeon so he’ll weigh up all of those bits and pieces of information. I’d expect to give him time for that,” Leppitsch said.

“Browny is probably closer to a decision on what will happen. His is less than a body issue but more ‘is it time, is it not time’. I’ll respectfully give those guys space.”

Whether that duo return will give Leppitsch firmer guidance on what areas he needs to address on the Lions list, with another midfielder, a key defender and a key forward top of the list.

He’ll also get to the bottom of the group of youngsters still deciding on their future paths. He’s hoping to convince them to stay but if not, Leppitsch wants fair compensation at the trade table.

Pat Karnezis (Victoria) and Jared Polec (South Australia) appear lost but Elliot Yeo, Billy Longer and Sam Docherty could yet be convinced to stay in Brisbane.

“I’ve met with them, told them where we are at and how to make them all fit in. I was a 17-year-old drafted to Brisbane as well so I share a lot of their fears,” Leppitsch said.

“And I nearly left after two years as well so they’re in a very similar situation that I was.

“For me, it’s trying to get them to think with their head, not their heart, and that’s difficult for a 19-year-old boy. I’ll just challenge them with their decisions.”

How those cards fall will provide Leppitsch with a much-clearer picture of the outlook for the next few seasons, in which he will be expected to send the Lions into the finals sooner rather than later.

“Look, we all want to be up there as quick as we can. Our age demographic is pretty good. It’s probably just below average in the AFL. We’ve got some players at the back end who are probably going to retire in the next three or four seasons, so we have to replace them,” Leppitsch said.

“There’s a few little key things that need to happen in the next three months that will set us up for coming years. What happens to these young players, what we get for them, that will have a big bearing on the depth of our list and how we compete, whether we touch on making the finals or we just fall short.

“They’re the bits we don’t know 100 per cent.”

Leppitsch is also hoping to get the financial room to take 30 players to a fitness camp in Arizona, more than double the number that would regularly travel.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Sep 11

Attack ‘linked to police complaint’

Died after being attacked at a Halloween party: Eden Delir. Photo: Supplied Ardavaz and Dorothy Delir, whose son Eden was killed after a Halloween party brawl. Photo: Wes Lonergan/Fairfield City Cham
Nanjing Night Net

A Sydney teenager who was allegedly beaten to death by six youths at a Halloween party was set upon because he ”had the temerity” to report an earlier attack by some of the same young men, a court has heard.

Eden Delir, 17, was found lying unconscious and covered in blood beside a house on Restwell Road, Bossley Park, about 10.30pm on October 30, 2010. He never regained consciousness and died in hospital six days later.

The NSW Supreme Court heard on Monday that Eden’s injuries were inflicted in a ”ferocious attack” by six young men who had shown up at the party uninvited and in an aggressive mood.

One of the youths, who allegedly smashed a glass bottle over Eden’s head during the attack, is facing trial for murder.

”They made their attendance and their purposes plain,” Crown prosecutor Paul Leask said as Eden’s mother cried quietly in the court gallery.

He said that, not long after arriving, one of the youths pointed at Eden and said ”that’s the guy that snitched”.

”The evidence will be that some months before the assault that killed him he was a victim of a robbery involving [another one of his alleged attackers],” Mr Leask said. ”Eden went to the police and reported this attack.

”It is the Crown case that because Eden had the temerity to complain to the police about the violence he received during the robbery, he became a target for further violence. It was this robbery and the aftermath which galvanised these men together in their attack against Eden.”

Later in the night, when the group of young men were standing out the front of the property, they allegedly began taunting Eden, calling out ”hey fatty” and ”hey Eden, come over here”.

The court heard that when the 17-year-old approached, one of the youths took his hat, before another allegedly punched him in the head.

”The ferocity of that punch was so serious that he fell to the ground,” Mr Leask said.

”It’s the Crown case that Eden then suffered a ferocious attack. He was hit to the head and kicked to the head in circumstances where he didn’t have a chance – six against one. It is alleged that this accused had a bottle and he smashed it over the head of the victim.

”By some burst of energy, he broke free from his attackers and ran up the street. One of the members of the group went after him, but Eden out ran him. He ended up beside this house.”

The barrister representing the accused said his client had no motive for the attack, and that much of the evidence in the trial had been contaminated by witnesses talking to one another before speaking to the police.

The trial continues.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Sep 11

Slow burn: lunch with Andrew McConnell

Andrew McConnell at home in St Kilda. Photo: Derek Swalwell Andrew McConnell at home in St Kilda. Photo: Derek Swalwell
Nanjing Night Net

Andrew McConnell is in the kitchen of his Fitzroy restaurant Cutler & Co palpating a loaf of sourdough with the care and consideration of a doctor assessing a sore tummy. He inspects the crumb and crust, gleaning information with quiet expertise. “I love the timing, the art, the feel of bread,” he says, gently replacing the loaf on a shelf. “Bread is the first thing you eat in a restaurant. You remember it.” Bread was also the first thing Andrew McConnell made for paying customers when, as a teenager, he was roll boy at a bakery near his home in Box Hill North. “My brother Matthew and I got there at 3am to shape the rolls,” he says. There were pay-offs beyond pocket money.

“I loved hanging out with the rough and tumble bakers,” he says.

“At 7am we’d have a beer and go home to sleep. Even better, we often got out of going to church.”

McConnell, 44, is the second oldest of six in a “good Catholic family”. His mother, Margaret, is an adventurous cook who turned catering for friends into a business. His father, Peter, worked as a director for Amcal chemists before joining his mother in the catering enterprise. “We were lucky that eating was a ritual for us not just something you had to get over with,” says McConnell.

Family life instilled an appreciation of good food but he wasn’t burning to be a chef. “I was an art nerd but I also liked cooking and it was easier to get a chef’s apprenticeship than get into art school,” he says. The three McConnell boys are chefs (Matthew owns Fitzroy’s Casa Ciuccio and the city’s Bar Lourinha, Sean works in cafe Mocan and Green Grout in Canberra); the girls work in childcare, beauty therapy and social work.

It’s Friday lunchtime and the Cutler & Co kitchen is a swirl of good smells: smoke from the wood grill, orange zest, butter.

McConnell is floating, telling one chef to fix a sauce (“It’s not hot enough”) and suggesting to head chef Chris Watson that an inter-costal beef cut has great flavour but is too chewy for the entree they’re working on. He stops a plate about to leave the kitchen and moves a garlic flower in such a way that the composition is suddenly complete.

McConnell is a cook who still likes cooking but he also has more than 200 employees in four busy restaurants: Cutler & Co, the Builders Arms with its Moon Under Water dining room in Fitzroy, Cumulus Inc in the city and its offshoot upstairs, Cumulus Up. St Kilda’s Golden Fields will be supplanted by a new restaurant, Supernormal, opening this summer in Flinders Lane, with Asian food and an all-day pitch designed to attract both a younger crowd and business functions. Over the 25 years he’s been cooking professionally, McConnell has morphed from a driven and sometimes fiery young chef into a measured hospitality leader. He’s won a slew of awards as chef and restaurateur.

He’s created emblematic dishes (marron at Circa, roast suckling pig at Cutler & Co, lobster roll at Golden Fields and grain salad at Cumulus Inc leap to mind). Apart from the delicious and the moreish, perhaps his key achievement is to have built a bridge between fine dining and hospitable hanging out. He’s a key Melbourne player but he prefers to stay out of the limelight. He’s written a cookbook of Cumulus Inc recipes but his author photo shows his face from nose to chin only. He’s appeared on MasterChef once but television doesn’t attract, partly because he doesn’t enjoy standing in front of a camera and is wary of commercial entanglements, but largely because it’s a time drain. “I would rather be in my restaurants dealing with my customers and staff,” he says.

He aims to spend a day a week in each restaurant, tasting and tweaking, working with his chefs. “It hasn’t been easy to let go, to not touch every single plate, but as the business grew it became impossible and as I get older I can’t physically be there 60 hours a week. I still feel guilty about it.” McConnell relies heavily on second-in-command John Paul Twomey who files reports from each kitchen, including such details as “the apprentices hang out with each other outside work which is good for morale” and “front of house staff should place dirty plates in the pot wash when they aren’t busy”. McConnell’s restaurants are talent incubators – alumni include Ben Shewry of Attica and Matt Wilkinson of Pope Joan – but many staff stay with him. Some are now business partners, others enjoy the responsibility they’re given and the fact that they’re still learning, such as at cooking masterclasses at Cumulus Up taught by industry experts. Topics include cheesemaking, menu development and French classics. “Even if we never put a souffle on at any of the restaurants, I think it’s great that my chefs know how to make one,” says McConnell.

His attention to detail is striking. At a meeting with design agency Projects of Imagination to discuss initial concepts for the branding of Supernormal, McConnell doesn’t say much. But when he inspects a layout that juxtaposes English and Japanese script, he says, “I like the space here. I like that dot.” New designs come back two days later: more space, more room to look at that dot.

Later in the week, McConnell is cooking at home in St Kilda.

There’s a footy ladder on the fridge, a deer head (“Deirdre”) in the dining room and the compulsory Ottolenghi cookbooks stacked on a table. He joints a chicken as he talk to me, later sticks his arm inside the oven to check it, and makes up a meringue dish as he goes. “The dessert is inspired by the violets outside,” he says, leading me into the bricked yard scattered with blooms. There’s a vegetable patch with chickweed running wild. “I chop it and take it to the restaurant,” he says. That’s as far as grow-your-own goes. “The farmers I work with get a better result than I could ever achieve,” he says. McConnell moved into the large Victorian house in February with his partner, Jo.

McConnell’s son with ex-wife Pascale Gomes-McNabb and Jo’s two children are there about half the time. (Gomes-McNabb, an architect and McConnell’s long-time collaborator, designed Cutler & Co and Cumulus Inc. She and McConnell announced their separation in 2009.) After tailing McConnell for a week, what shines through is his love of food, a belief in the pleasure it can bring, and the ongoing project of creating happy contexts in which to eat it. The success, and therefore the joy, is often in nailing nuance. McConnell talks about the crumpets at Cumulus Inc. “You could serve them with butter and honey and it would be fine but we take it further. We whip ricotta with vanilla till it’s creamy, almost buttery. We serve a big spoon of that next to the crumpet with a cheek of lemon and a pot of honey with a honey stick. Some people will be taken by the crumpet, some will appreciate the complementary arrangement of beautiful things. Some will just think it’s a great snack on the way to work. I like that just as much. I’m not too fussed whether people notice or not. It’s just how I like to do things.”

Andrew McConnell: from rolls to rock to Supernormal

1982 Requests lamb brains for his 13th birthday dinner “out of curiosity and to annoy my siblings.”

1986-1987 Works part-time for Bill Marchetti at Italian restaurant Marchetti’s Latin.

1989 Starts apprenticeship at progressive Kew restaurant Capers. “I was enthralled.”

1991 Continues apprenticeship at Walter Bourke’s Maria and Walter’s, “a quirky little fine diner in Carlton.”

1992 Works at O’Connells with Greg Malouf and is introduced to Middle Eastern flavours.

1993 Travels in Thailand and Malaysia and to a job in London at 190 Queens Gate with Antony Worrall Thompson.

1994 Returns to Melbourne and works at Tansy’s. “Tansy Good’s cooking has had a lasting effect. She taught me how to cook with finesse.”

1995 Works in Europe as a cook for Madonna, Prince, Bryan Ferry, Tom Jones and more. “It was a year of travel and partying, seeing another world, and it was amazing being backstage.”

1996-1999 Has first head chef job in Hong Kong at trailblazing fine dining restaurant M at the Fringe.

2001-2004 Opens first restaurant, Diningroom 211, with then partner Pascale Gomes-McNabb and, initially, with brother Matthew. The brothers are named joint young chefs of the year in The Age Good Food Guide 2002, which calls the restaurant a “sparkling, sexy, postmodern tearaway”.

2003 Opens Mrs Jones, a foray into deformalising fine dining.

2004-2005 Takes the reins of the two-hat Circa kitchen and lifts it to three hats in The Age Good Food Guide 2006.

2006-2008 Mrs Jones becomes Three, One, Two and McConnell is The Age Good Food Guide’s 2007 chef of the year.

2008 Opens Cumulus Inc, Melbourne’s first all-day fine-dining cafe and bar, and an early player in the no-bookings trend.

2009 Opens Cutler & Co in a massive Fitzroy factory.

2010The Age Good Food Guide names McConnell chef of the year.

2011 Opens Golden Fields, serving a lobster roll that sends the city into a frenzy.

2012 Redevelops Builders Arms (and dining room Moon Under Water), “one of my favourite pubs – I used to drink beer there and dance in the disco.”

2013 Opens Cumulus Up, a wine bar designed to ease the crush downstairs at Cumulus Inc. It becomes just as busy.

2014 Will open Supernormal, a Flinders Lane version of Golden Fields.

This profile originally appeared in the October issue of The (Melbourne) Magazine. The November issue will be available with The Age on Friday, October 25.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Sep 11

Ricky Martin in Newcastle: photos, video

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop
Nanjing Night Net

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Please enable Javascript to watch this videoLATINO music star Ricky Martin has arrived in Newcastle ahead of his Australian tour.

The Livin’ la Vida Loca singer travelled to Newcastle with five year old twin boys Matteo and Valentino on the weekend, after flying into Sydney International Airport on Friday.

‘‘It’s been beautiful,’’ he said at Newcastle Entertainment Centre during a break in rehearsals on Monday morning.

‘‘I took a walk yesterday [Sunday] early in the morning, still dealing with jetlag, so it was 6.30 in the morning when I was taking a walk along The Foreshore and it was very beautiful, very special, very relaxing, other than that we’ve been locked in here all day rehearsing.’’

Martin and his family will stay in the Hunter until his Thursday night show in Newcastle, the earliest and only regional stop on his first Australian tour for more than 10 years.

‘‘The show is liberating, at the end of the show everybody will be sweating – there’s a lot of dancing,’’ he said.

Martin will also perform at the NRL Grand Final on Sunday.

‘‘I was invited to an amazing celebration of music and sports and I’m not going to say no to that,’’ he said.

‘‘There is a lot I need to learn about rugby league because we don’t practice it back in Puerto Rico, but I’m ready.’’

Ricky Martin will perform at Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Thursday October 3.

Tickets from ticketek南京夜网.au

My Ticketek members can now buy two Gold or Platinum tickets to the show for the price of one.