Month: May 2019


A first look at penultimate Star Wars movie The Last Jedi

13/05/2019

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With an unsurprising mixture of action sequences, action figures and lingering one-liners loaded with possibility, the trailer for what will inevitably be the most anticipated film of the year – Star Wars: The Last Jedi – has landed.
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Though each Star Wars film has a proclaimed significance of its own, Star Wars: The Last Jedi hints at a brush with the dark side of the Force for its hero Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and a heart-crushing final scene for its heroine General, nee Princess, Leia (Carrie Fisher).

For those reasons the film – the eighth, penultimate story in a nine-story that now spans four decades of filmmaking – has a particular significance for fans of the franchise who have been there since Star Wars rewrote the rulebook on cinema in 1977.

Make no mistake, however, this is a commercial enterprise: the trailer bowed online as ticketing for the first screenings in December went on sale.

And it included glimpses not just of familiar faces such as Rey, Kylo Ren and Finn, but a handful of new, colourful aliens who will no doubt populate the action figure playsets and LEGO kits that will will this year’s Christmas stockings.

They include a noisy new co-pilot for the Millennium Falcon, seen in a scene with the ship’s much-loved first mate Chewbacca. And a white dog-like alien with what appears to be crystalline fur in a sequence outside the rebel base.

Among the trailer’s key moments were sequences revealing a new design for the iconic AT-AT “walker”, first seen in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back, and a confrontation between the new trilogy’s heroine, Rey (Daisy Ridley), and its sinister villain, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).

“When I found you, I saw war, untamed power and and beyond that, something truly special,” Snoke says in one of the sequences.

That confrontation may be intentionally reminiscent of the encounter between Luke Skywalker and Emperor Palpatine, which concluded the original trilogy of films.

Though the story of Star Wars is ostensibly about the rise and fall of the Empire and the rebellion against it, on a more thematic level it has always been a story of fathers, sons and inescapable destiny, notably Anakin Skywalker, his son Luke Skywalker, and from Luke a possible next generation of Jedi.

Much of the trailer’s action is focused on the ancient Jedi temple on Ahch-To where – in the final scenes of the last film – Rey delivered to Luke Skywalker the lightsaber that was cut from his hand in a duel with his father, Darth Vader.

“Something inside me has always been there,” Rey says ominously.

“I’ve seen this raw strength once before,” Luke tells her. “It didn’t scare me enough then. It does now.”

Some of the film’s key artwork and its over-use of red shadow around Luke Skywalker has fuelled speculation that Luke himself may “fall” to the “dark side” of the Force in the film.

Within the Star Wars canon, the “Force” is a mystical energy force which binds the galaxy together; those trained to use its power were known as Jedi knights, and they can manipulate it’s light (good) and dark (evil) sides.

In past Star Wars films, the colour blue has been used to represent the light side of the force, and red its opposite “dark” side.

The film also includes a sequence which suggests that Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is at the controls of a starfighter which fires a lethal shot at the Resistance command ship led by his mother, General Leia.

That sequence in the trailer, however, may have been edited for such a specific implication.

Ren – real name Ben Solo – is the son of General Leia and the late Han Solo.

What is known is that the character of General Leia will be killed off in the film; actress Carrie Fisher died earlier this year.

The trailer ends with Rey in a scene with Kylo Ren in which she asks him to “show me my place in all of this”, to which he offers her his outstretched hand.

On the internet, theories are already abound that it is a sign she too will be seduced by the dark side of the Force, or the opposite, that in fact she will bring Kylo back to the “light” side of the Force.

Whatever it means, it is likely to translate to bums on seats come December 15 this year when “episode eight” – Star Wars: The Last Jedi – is released. The ninth and final chapter in the Star Wars “saga” will be released in December, 2019.

The supplies you need for your DIY paint project

13/05/2019

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If you’re undertaking a DIY project, chances are you’re going to learn a couple of lessons the hard way. For renovator Therese King, that lesson only took a couple of seconds but ended up adding a week to her project timeline.
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“I painted the kitchen, was very proud of my efforts, it looked fabulous,” she says.

Thinking the walls and ceiling were done, she was working on installing the floating floorboards next, which required some floor leveller. “It looks like powdered concrete so you need to mix it up with water,” she says. With her drill mixer in the bucket, she switched it on.

“It spread the leveller so that it splattered all the walls and the roof and my hair. I learnt something through that experience – if you’re going to use your drill to mix your paint or whatever, do it outside! Which I’ve done ever since.”

King lives in a 100-year-old double-brick farmer’s cottage in South Albury. Being a convenient three hours between both Melbourne and Canberra and also a good stopover for those travelling south from Sydney, she saw the Airbnb potential in her duplex and spent every weekend for eight months renovating the fully self-contained one-bedroom unit next door.

“With the painting, that’s something I know I can do,” she says. “I got builders in and tradesman in for the big jobs, but when it came to restoring doors and painting that’s something that anyone can do really well.”

Cherie Barber agrees. As the renovating for profit expert on Channel Ten’s The Living Room, she is a big advocate of DIY painting. However, before a lick of paint can touch a wall, there’s a checklist of equipment and supplies you need to get the job done properly.

Whether you are like King and painting a whole property “from front door to back door” or tackling a single room, a quick cheat to help get you started is the Haymes Painters’ Pack. Free with any purchase of eight litres or more of Haymes Ultra Premium Paint, the pack contains a 230-millimetre heavy-duty roller frame, a microfibre roller cover, roller tray, premium canvas drop sheet, a paint can opener and a flat wooden paint stirrer.

“It has the key items you’ll need for starting your project,” Haymes Paint’s product training manager Scott Cattell says.

While rollers and drop sheets are obvious in the job they do, Cattell says flat stirrers are preferred to something round, like say a screwdriver.

“It’s always important to make sure your paint is thoroughly stirred, even though they do stir it at the shop when your colour is mixed. If paint has been sitting around for a while, it’s always a good idea to make sure you stir it thoroughly. So the flat stirrer actually agitates the paint properly.”

The Painters’ Pack provides “incentive to start the project”, Cattell says, adding there are other things you need outside of that as well. A Haymes instructional video suggests using Unikleen sugar soap to wash the walls, and Uni-Fill gap filler to prepare the wall surface, which will also require sponges, hand sanders and scrapers.

Masking tape is also required but Barber warns against using the traditional tan-coloured one. “You can only leave them on for a maximum of 24 hours before the adhesive starts bonding to the surface,” she says.

While renovators may be well-intentioned, Barber says laziness or distractions can kick in and if you let a week lapse, that tape will sliver into tiny pieces and leave adhesive residue. Opt for professional painters tapes instead. “Blue painters tapes can stay on for six months,” she says.

Barber advises DIYers to get mineral turps if their paint is oil based, as well as cling film for keeping rollers moist between coats, disposable latex gloves and “if you’re strictly going by the book, a respirator” for health and safety reasons.

Barber also cautions against buying “cheap and nasty” brushes because the bristles end up in the paint and then all over your walls. “You spend more time picking them out with your fingernails than painting,” she says.

For King, the painting of Olive Tree Cottage is now a memory and she’s become an Airbnb super-host.

“I’ve had so much positive feedback about how the house is decorated,” she says. “People have really responded to [its] artwork and I think that’s why the white walls have been so successful, because they let the artwork speak.”

Doing all the painting herself “saved thousands” but also gave King that feeling familiar to anyone who has completed a DIY project.

“The preparation is always the most tedious but once you get the room set up for painting it can be incredibly satisfying, that feeling of rolling that fresh paint onto your empty walls and you start to feel that the transformation has begun. It’s definitely a feeling of achievement, the feeling of ‘I did this’.”

Westpac, ANZ and CBA move on transaction fees

13/05/2019

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George Frazis, head consumer bank, Westpac at the Sydney office 11th August 2017 Photo by Louise kennerley AFRWestpac is scrapping “outdated” charges on some transactions and capping account-keeping fees, as part of a bank-wide review in response to the erosion of public trust in banks.
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The chief executive of the bank’s consumer arm, George Frazis, on Tuesday said the bank would remove rules that limited the number of free monthly transactions, which applied to some “old” accounts created before the rise of mobile banking.

After Westpac’s move, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ Bank said they would address the same issue, with both lenders moving customers out of accounts that included a limited number of “free” monthly transactions onto newer products.

The moves match a change that National Bank made some years ago to provide unlimited monthly transactions to customers. NAB has also not charged monthly account keeping fees since 2010.

Westpac is also capping monthly account-keeping fees for personal banking customers at $5 a month – compared with some accounts that charge as much as $15 a month.

The changes follow the major banks’ move last month to scrap ATM fees for customers of other banks, and it is being announced the day before Westpac chief executive Brian Hartzer appears before the federal government’s banking inquiry in Canberra.

The changes were announced by Mr Frazis in a speech in Sydney, in which he also acknowledged ‘s banks had lost the trust of many members of the community.

Mr Frazis said the changes would benefit 1.3 million customers, and were “just the start” of the lender’s attempt to boost simplicity and transparency.

He said the limits on transactions were included in some accounts that had been created before the rise of mobile banking, when consumers typically visited a branch once a week.

“Products like these are the banking equivalent of the horse-and-buggy. That’s why we’re taking away those old fees and limits,” he said at a Trans-Tasman Business Circle lunch in Sydney.

Westpac did not disclose how much revenue it would lose as a result of the changes, but Mr Frazis said “it is not an insignificant decision on our part”.

A CBA spokeswoman said the bank was migrating its customers who still faced a monthly transaction limit to accounts with unlimited transactions, a process expected to finish by early next year. Its maximum account keeping fee is $6.

Some ANZ Bank customers also have a limit on the number of free transactions they can make every month, and the bank is seeking to move these people onto accounts with unlimited transactions. Most of ANZ’s accounts have a $5 monthly fee, but it has one with a $6 fee and one with a $10 monthly fee.

A spokeswoman for comparison website Mozo, Kirsty Lamont, said more than half the accounts in its database did not charge an account-keeping fee, and it was not clear why Westpac, ANZ and CBA still included such charges.

“If their smaller competitors can afford to have accounts out there with no account keeping fees then why can’t these big banks do that?” she said.

Mr Frazis revealed the changes in a speech that also dealt with the technological upheaval rocking retail banking, in which he also noted Westpac’s stoush with Apple over access to the iPhone’s hardware for making payments.

Westpac, National Bank and Commonwealth Bank do not offer Apple Pay because of the dispute, but Mr Frazis said Wesptac expected to reach a deal with the tech giant “eventually.”

“I have actually no doubt at some stage we will come up with an agreement with Apple Pay for Westpac customers,” he said. NAB’s fully owned Bank of New Zealand this week started offering Apple Pay, but said this did not signal a change of approach in .

Mr Frazis also touched on what he called the “fractious relationship” between banks and the community, saying banks had become an “easy target” and it was “critical to confidence, investment and our international standing” that the industry improved its relationship with the government and regulators.

He explained the decline in public trust by saying banks had lost a “sincere connection” with their customers, which was fuelling resentment among some consumers, and action from the government.

“We lost that connection because some bankers and some banks forgot that trust is a two-way street,” he said.

“There has clearly been a divergence between our customers’ interests and the bank’s interests.”

No CET creates uncertainty for energy, Origin CEO says

13/05/2019

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The clean energy target is needed to attract investment and provide clarity for business, and is not all about subsidies, says Origin Energy chief executive Frank Calabria.
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“Generally the message around the [clean energy target] CET is being called from a point of certainty, not a subsidy, that’s what people are calling for,” Mr Calabria said at The n Financial Review’s National Energy Summit on Tuesday.

The federal government has signalled it will not implement the CET, the key recommendation from the Finkel Review. Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg argues it is not needed because of the declining costs of renewables and storage, greater efficiencies in thermal generation and an increasing focus on dispatchable power in the system.

“We are considering the Finkel Review’s 50th recommendation – to which we’ll respond before the end of the year,” Mr Frydenberg said on Monday.

Mr Calabria said a clean energy target – or a similar process – provides companies with certainty and a clear path for investors.

“It gives us the trajectory upon which we can hit an emissions reduction,” Mr Calabria said.

“We think there are workable solutions, we just want to get on with it now.

He argued that the lack of a price signal ends up hurting customers and delays or even stops investment decisions.

“The key thing for me is that people want to invest up front earlier so you don’t get yourself into the situation that we’ve seen ourselves in over the last six months with the rapidly escalating price.

“We’ve got to think to 2030 and beyond if we are going to continue to transform our energy system,” he said.

South ‘s Premier Jay Weatherill proposal to “go it alone” on setting clean energy targets was rejected by Mr Calabria, who said “we’d prefer a national coordinated mechanism”.

He added that while Origin would be open to the idea if states were to put it forward, “it’s not our first preference”.

In Her Time owner keen to race on amid lucrative offers ahead of Everest consolation

13/05/2019

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OFFERS for In Her Time have hit $1.5 million but owner Peter Brownis backing the Newcastle-trained star to keep increasingher value on the track, potentially in Saturday’s The Everest consolation, the $500,000 Sydney Stakes,at Randwick.
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In Her Time, right, winning the Premiere Stakes ahead of Everest runners English and Clearly Innocent, left. Picture: AAP

The Ben Smith-trained five-year-old maremissed a place in The Everest (1200m) despite a last-start win in the group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on September 30 over a host of starters in this Saturday’s$10 million feature. She was named on Tuesday as one of four Everest emergencies.

The win took In Her Time’s earnings past $1 million from just 15 starts and increased her worth as a broodmare prospect.

TheHeraldwas told Brown had fielded an offer of $1.75 million for In Her Time, which he bought after shewas passed in atthe 2014 Inglis Classic Yearling when failingto make a$40,000 reserve.The mare isleased, at least until early next year, to a widerownership group.

Brown said the $1.75 millionfigure had been“mooted” but offers for In Her Time were nothing new.

“There’s been several offers for her, all the way through,” Brown said.“They started at $150,000 a year and a half ago, and they are now at $1.5 million.”

The 67-year-old Bar Beach owner-breeder, though, said he had no intention to sell in the shortterm.

“We’ll wait until she finishes her racing career before we consider selling her, because the way she’s going, she may earn another million and a half in prizemoney,” he said.

“Why would you sell when on Saturday she’srunning for $500,000, then for a million and then she might come back and run in theTJ Smith, which is $3 million, and she might go again to Queensland for races like the Stradbroke and Tatt’s Tiara.

“While she’s OK, she can stay where she is, because at the end of her racing careershe’ll still be worth $1.5 million as a broodmare.”

In Her Time was set for a Melbourne campaign taking in the group 1 Manikato Stakes (October 27) andDarley Classic (November 11) but could now race next in the Sydney Stakes. Brown said they will accept for the race, which will keep her in contention for the Everest if a runner isscratched.

In Her Time drew nine of 14 for the Sydney Stakes, which will become gate eight with emergencies out. Brownsaid the prizemoney, In Her Time’s record as a multiple group 2 winnerat Randwick over 1200m and the weight-for-age conditions made the Sydney Stakes a tempting proposition but the decision to run would be left to Smith, who had done “an amazing job” with the horse.

Smith said he would make a call later in the week but “the way she’s going, there’s every chance we will run on Saturday then head to Melbourne for the Manikato, then we may miss the Darley”.

“It’s probably a good draw for her with all the main chances drawn awkward, but we’ll play it by ear. It depends on her more than the rest of the field. We’ve got to consider whether she can get through a run on Saturday and race again in a fortnight because the Manikato is probably the main one.”

Smith said his stable star was“going enormous and has put on 10 kilos since her last run”.

“She just keeps developing and getting better and now she’s a bit older and a bit more mature, maybe she can handle a tougher workload,” he said.