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Hearing set for imam alleged to have officiated over wedding of child bride

14/11/2018 | 南京夜网 | Permalink

An imam accused of conducting the illegal marriage of a 12-year-old girl has been granted conditional bail as police decide whether to lay charges against the child bride’s father.
Nanjing Night Net

The arrest of the imam came as the 26-year-old man accused of ”marrying” and having a sexual relationship with the girl prepared to apply for his release from custody on Wednesday.

Child abuse detectives allege the 35-year-old imam performed a marriage ceremony in the Hunter Valley this year. Detectives arrested the imam at Parramatta police station on Monday and charged him with solemnisation of a marriage by an unauthorised person.

Police will allege the imam conducted the Islamic ceremony after he was approached by a Lebanese man who was visiting Australia.

The victim’s father consented to the marriage and allowed the ceremony to take place in his home on January 12. He then allowed his daughter and the accused to move to south-west Sydney.

Police said they believed the imam had been associated with an Islamic centre and mosque in the Hunter region ”on and off” since 2009. It is understood the imam made frequent trips from Australia to Pakistan during this time.

He was released on strict conditional bail and is expected to appear before Parramatta Local Court on April 2.

On Tuesday Premier Barry O’Farrell said he was pleased that the Muslim religious leader had been arrested.

”I’m delighted charges have been laid,” Mr O’Farrell told reporters. ”This charging of this person sends a strong message, whether to religious celebrants or civil celebrants.”

Police arrested the victim’s ”husband” last Thursday and charged him with 25 counts of having sexual intercourse with a child between January 1 and February 4 this year.

The accused had been living in Australia on a student visa and attending the University of Newcastle. It is understood he had no ties with the town he was living in but met the under-age victim through a local mosque.

He was formally refused bail at Burwood Local Court last Friday and will remain behind bars until he makes an application for bail.

Police say they do not believe the girl’s mother had any knowledge of the ”marriage” or that her daughter had moved to Sydney with a 26-year-old man.

It is understood the girl’s father and mother are separated.

Police learnt of the man and under-age girl’s marriage after the accused tried to enrol the girl, who recently turned 13, at school and applied for legal guardianship through Centrelink.

The victim has been taken into the care of the Department of Family and Community Services until a permanent home can be found for her.

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

Toyota closure: Loss of car manufactoring jobs unlikely to make impact on economy

14/11/2018 | 南京夜网 | Permalink

What will the economy look like without the three big car manufacturers and suppliers? Pretty much the same as it does now.
Nanjing Night Net

Twenty years ago manufacturing provided one in every seven Australian jobs, around 13.5 per cent. Today it’s 8 per cent.

Two industries have filled the gap: professional, scientific and technical services, whose share of employment has climbed from 5.5 per cent to 7.7 per cent, and healthcare and social assistance, whose share has climbed from 10 per cent to 12 per cent. Australia has become more of a brain-work economy and more of a service economy.

And the transition isn’t new. The loss of the further 50,000 jobs tied up in car manufacture isn’t going to change things much further. Manufacturing employs 934,000 in total.

Steve Bracks, the former Victorian premier who chaired the Bracks automotive review for the Rudd government, believes some of the component manufacturers will stay. Futuris Automotive sells seats, trims and upholstery worldwide. Air International exports airconditioning systems.

Each month around 350,000 Australians leave their jobs and 350,000 gain them. A loss of an extra 50,000 over a number of years as the car manufacturing industry closes would scarcely make a dent, especially if – as is likely – many of the sacked workers move to other jobs.

But total jobs growth has stalled. The number of Australians in work is slipping at the rate of 600 per month. Tony Abbott’s promise to ”produce 1 million new jobs in five years” is one he won’t keep.

In Parliament on Tuesday, Treasurer Joe Hockey talked tough, saying ”now is the time to fix the budget”. But with jobs growth dead and the collapse of car manufacture making things a little worse, there’s a limit to how much it’s wise to cut back in his first budget in May.

Another previously legislated measure will depress the economy in July. The Medicare levy will climb from 1.5 per cent of most salaries to 2 per cent to fund the national disability insurance scheme.

Budgetary pressures are likely to place on hold another move he could otherwise make to salvage something positive out of the departure of Ford, Holden and Toyota.

He could axe tariffs on imported cars. After all, there will soon be no local industry left to protect. It would bring down the landed price of each car 5 per cent. He could also abolish the so-called luxury car tax, currently at 33 per cent.

But it would cost him serious money he doesn’t have. If he did abolish tariffs he would have to replace them with something else. As far as revenue-raisers go, tariffs on imported cars are pretty efficient, right up there with the goods and services tax. He wouldn’t want to replace them with something worse.

The impending departure of the big three car manufacturers has given him another opportunity though. Last year Labor’s Chris Bowen announced a plan to raise $1.8 billion by properly taxing cars provided to workers as part of salary packages. Abbott and Hockey opposed it, arguing concessional treatment was needed to ensure cars continued to be made in Australia. It isn’t now.

Twitter: @1petermartin

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

Virgin’s Richard Branson puts boot into Alan Joyce over Qantas’ domestic market strategy

14/11/2018 | 南京夜网 | Permalink

Virgin Australia founder Richard Branson claims Qantas boss Alan Joyce is in ”deep shit” for sticking to his strategy of maintaining a 65 per cent share of the domestic air travel market.
Nanjing Night Net

Renewing his attacks on Virgin’s main rival, Sir Richard has told journalists in Dubai that it would be unfair for the federal government to provide financial assistance to Qantas.

”It would be incredulous if the government can hand over money to him [Mr Joyce] and they don’t hand over money to Virgin Australia,” he told Arabian Business magazine. ”Every company in Australia will come begging to the government if the government allowed that to happen.”

Australia’s two largest airlines have been embroiled in a public spat since November when Qantas demanded the federal government step in to stop Virgin’s big-three airline shareholders – Etihad, Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines – from tightening their grip on the carrier.

Sir Richard has also told journalists in Dubai that he did not have plans to sell his remaining 10 per cent stake in Virgin Australia. It differs to his position last year when he would not commit to keeping his holdings in the airline, emphasising that the branding agreement he has with Virgin was far more crucial to him.

Qantas will renew its lobbying in Canberra this week when Mr Joyce meets senior politicians.

The airline has been seeking financial assistance in the form of a standby debt facility from the government, a move so far met with reservations from Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Sir Richard said Qantas had lost hundreds of millions of dollars by sticking to its strategy of holding its share of the domestic market at 65 per cent, and ”now [Mr Joyce is] appealing to the government to give him money and holding his hat out like a begging bowl to the government”.

”Alan Joyce is in deep shit because he drew a line in the sand,” he said.

Qantas hit back at the English businessman’s comments, saying Virgin often rolled him out to the media to ”distract from their bad news”. ”Suggesting that Qantas should change its strategy so that Virgin can simply take our customers to reduce their financial losses is ridiculous,” a spokesman said on Tuesday.

”As we’ve said many times, Qantas is not asking the government for money. This is in contrast to Virgin, which has been cap in hand to the three foreign-government owned airlines to fund their loss-making strategy. What we’re asking the government for is a level playing field in the domestic aviation market.”

Sir Richard’s British airline Virgin Atlantic said last week that it will stop flying between Sydney and Hong Kong in May, blaming increasing costs and a weaker Australian dollar. He put the airline’s losses on the route at about $10 million a year.

”I love going to Australia and the idea of having to go on Qantas or British Airways is going to be very, very painful. But hopefully we’ll be back one day,” he said.

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

Melbourne suburban shopping strips rising from gloom

14/11/2018 | 南京夜网 | Permalink

A shift to inner-city living and rising consumer confidence is boosting Melbourne’s besieged suburban shopping streets.
Nanjing Night Net

Traders in prime shopping streets such as Bridge Road, Chapel Street and Toorak Road have suffered through one of the worst downturns in a decade, but new vacancy figures suggest the gloom is lifting.

Midway through 2013, the combined vacancy rate across Melbourne’s major suburban shopping strips reached its highest level in a decade as tight-fisted consumers abandoned bricks and mortar stores for online offerings.

That resulted in almost one in six shops in the one-time discount fashion heartland of Bridge Road standing empty.

Fresh figures from CBRE show that in the six months to January this year, the vacancy rate for 10 of Melbourne’s most prominent streets fell by 1.15 per cent. Even Bridge Road’s vacancy rate has fallen – from 15.18 per cent in June to 11.61 per cent in January.

The change was partly attributable to Melbourne’s burgeoning apartment market, CBRE’s Cam Taranto said. ”The increased residential population has resulted in better quality tenants in the strips,” he said.

The strip shopping thaw can be seen in Australians’ spending habits. According to CommSec’s research, real spending rose 0.9 per cent in the December quarter after a 0.8 per cent rise in the September quarter – the best back-to-back gains in 18 months.

Retailers were also benefiting from a bit more inflation – retail prices rose 1.1 per cent in the December quarter – equalling the highest quarterly rise in 4½ years, CommSec said. CBRE’s Zelman Ainsworth said rents in the top 10 prime strips were relatively stable over 2013.

Chapel Street maintained its lead as the most expensive, fetching $1000-$1400 per square metre of retail space.

Mr Ainsworth said national food outlets such as Menchie’s, Ben & Jerry’s, Lord of the Fries, 7-Eleven, Grill’d and Boost Juice were scouting for locations in retail strips. International retailers were also keen to set up in Chapel Street, Burke Road, High Street and Church Street, he said.

Between June last year and January this year, vacancy rates fell in Burke Road (3.03 per cent), Bridge Road (11.61 per cent), Chapel Street (3.63 per cent), Glenferrie Road, Malvern (4.58 per cent), Acland Street (2.04 per cent), Church Street (1.19 per cent) and Clarendon Street (5.7 per cent). Over the same period they rose in Puckle Street (2.75 per cent), Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn (4.31 per cent) and Toorak Road (9.6 per cent).

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

Car manufacturing demise opens up new image for industrial sites

14/11/2018 | 南京夜网 | Permalink

The Toyota plant at Altona is 68 hectares. Photo: Penny StephensThe end of Victoria’s car industry will spark a slow but seismic shift for some industrial property markets and impact on values, agents say.
Nanjing Night Net

Between them Holden and Toyota own about 41 hectares in Port Melbourne, while Toyota owns 68 hectares in Altona.

Ford’s sites in Broadmeadows and Geelong span 133 hectares.

The closures will result in potential vacancies and a weakening in secondary industrial markets around the big three’s manufacturing facilities, where the majority of automotive component suppliers are clustered, CBRE’s Matt Haddon said.

In Port Melbourne those industries are mainly located in Bertie, Bridge, Fennell, Plummer, Turner, Lorimer and Salmon streets.

In Altona they gravitate to Dohertys, Kororoit Creek and Millers roads, as well as Grieve Parade.

Holden’s 38-hectare plant at Fishermans Bend will more than double in value once it is subdivided into smaller portions and better connected to the city by public transport in coming years, Lemon Baxter director Richard Hutton said.

It falls outside the substantial rezoning of nearby areas of Fishermans Bend designed to encourage residential development.

But Toyota’s three-hectare head office and car park beside the West Gate Freeway sits within the newly rezoned area, he said.

Businesses currently leasing factories in Fishermans Bend can expect to be pushed out if they haven’t left before 2016 when the rezoning brings the first of an expected 50,000 new residents.

Large developers have already shown an interest in the GMH site, which spreads across Lorimer Street, Todd Road and Cook Street, and includes dozens of large warehouses, many of which are expected to be refitted as boutique offices.

Mr Hutton expects one developer will buy the entire GMH site then sell it off in smaller portions, perhaps after devising a master plan for a series of new business parks.

A similar fate awaits Ford’s Broadmeadows plant. Its superior location on the Hume Highway and quality buildings was likely to result in it being master planned into an estate for bulky goods, retail stores, industrial parks or a logistics base, Colliers International’s Tony Iuliano said.

Toyota’s Altona plant was in a prime location for a major logistics site, he said.

In Fishermans Bend, sites south of the West Gate Freeway have been rezoned to allow for high-density residential development.

Properties to the north of the freeway – including large estates occupied by GMH, Kraft and Boeing, are expected to stay low-rise and provide workplaces for the new residents.

”But,” Mr Hutton said, ”the days of an industrial shed anywhere in Fishermans Bend are numbered.

”We expect the low-rise pocket of Fishermans Bend will develop like Cremorne, in Richmond, attracting boutique companies particularly from the design and IT-fields, which operate from former warehouse buildings.”

Industrial occupiers, however, have already started to feel the renewal with some landlords not extending leases or increasing rents to reflect the higher holding costs (rates, land tax etc) being charged to them.

”We’ve already moved several tenants out of the area, mainly to Melbourne’s western suburbs,” Mr Hutton said.

In a testament to how fast commercial values have moved in the area, half of a former GMH car park at 600 Lorimer Street, Port Melbourne, which Mirvac sold for $320 per square metre about five years ago, sold late last year for about $800 per square metre.

Mr Haddon said few major institutional property owners were exposed to the car makers.

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

AIA Australia moves to new St Kilda Road location

14/10/2018 | 南京夜网 | Permalink

Life insurance group AIA Australia will lease three refurbished floors at 509 St Kilda Road but the deal is unlikely to dent the area’s 11.4 per cent vacancy rate.
Nanjing Night Net

AIA will take about 7000 square metres on levels 5, 6 and 7 and claim exclusive naming rights, main signage rights and 85 car bays in the building owned by a Calibre Capital fund, Colliers International’s Ben Christie said.

”The lease was executed just prior to Christmas, making this the largest transaction completed on St Kilda Road in 2013,” Mr Christie said.

On the sales side, the Julliard Group is believed to be close to finalising the transaction of 424 St Kilda Road to a Chinese group, with expectations around $45 million.

A three-level office building with 4008 square metres of net lettable area and 156 car spaces at 20 Queens Road is also on the market, expected to lure residential developers.

AIA will relocate from 553 St Kilda Road to space formerly occupied by MLC (NAB’s wealth management division) which left 11,500 square metres vacant when it moved to 700 Bourke Street in Docklands late last year.

Mr Christie would not disclose leasing terms but rents for similar assets are believed to be around $300 per square metre per annum. The hole left by MLC had the potential to create a ”significant spike” in the area’s vacancy but the AIA deal and Webjet (1670 square metres) and Transfield Services (3378 square metres) partly neutralised the impact, Mr Christie said.

”We’re forecasting vacancy on St Kilda Road to peak at 11.43 per cent in July 2014, then gradually trend down,” he said.

Colliers’ forecast is slightly higher than the latest Property Council estimate of 11.4 per cent total vacancy, with only D grade recording no vacancy. Melbourne’s overall office market vacancy rate fell from 9.8 per cent to 8.7 per cent.

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

Lemon, Middle and Orange – a cafe by the lane – offers view of industrial past

14/10/2018 | 南京夜网 | Permalink

Lemon, Middle and Orange in Rokeby Street, Collingwood. Photo: Peter Hyatt People can either stand at the bench in the front courtyard or move inside to one of the tables. Photo: Peter Hyatt
Nanjing Night Net

Like DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) in New York or Brick Lane in London, Rokeby Street in Collingwood is quietly undergoing a transformation. As industry continues to move to the outer suburbs, offices and cafes are taking over the spaces that housed those industries.

When John Wardle first came across the 1940s brick building that became the home for his practice, John Wardle Architects, a couple of years ago, it not only reminded him of changing urban areas in New York and London, it inspired a belief in him that the architect was British.

”The polychromatic bricks and steel-framed windows spoke of a British architect,” says Wardle, who traced the titles to Goodlass Wall & Co, a paint manufacturer from Liverpool.

Wardle gutted the three-level building, transforming it into a two-level office for his practice and bringing in creatives at ground level: Spacecraft, a leading textile printing practice, together with Bus Projects, an artists-run gallery combined studio.

”The idea was to develop a community, so it seemed obvious to include a cafe, where everyone in the building, as well as those in the surrounding offices, could meet,” Wardle says.

The cafe is LM&O, which stands for Lemon, Middle and Orange. It is fronted by a perforated steel screen, which speaks the language of a neighbouring factory.

A friend of Wardle’s found an old sign, thought to be from the 1950s, from Goodlass Wall & Co’s Bombay factory on eBay. Coincidently, the letters that form the name of the cafe also stand for the cafe owners’ names, Liam Ganley and Margaret Lawless.

”There’s also our own corporate colour in the mix,” says Wardle, referring to orange.

The main thing driving the design, a collaboration with Projects of the Imagination, was to celebrate the laneway that fronts the cafe.

Open at both ends with large glass and steel doors, LM&O features a simple palette of materials, including concrete-block walls, polished-concrete floors and fine Victorian ash joinery; the joinery is a hallmark of Wardle’s practice.

The cafe is 30 metres long and six metres wide. Wardle has loosely defined its spaces as a ”front porch” arrangement, an extension of the pavement.

And beyond the large glass and steel door is a continuous banquette, conceived as a series of strategies to accommodate uses such as seating and magazine racks.

People can either stand at the bench in the front courtyard or move inside to one of the tables. For larger gatherings, or even office meetings, there’s a dining table setting to the rear.

”We tend to use that space as another meeting room,” says Wardle, who also has two meeting rooms above, as well as a roof terrace, which doubles for functions.

On Top of the World was born out of textile designer Stewart Russell’s love of flags (Russell is from Spacecraft). Various commissions are displayed on the roof, and Wardle hosts monthly talks there.

”I wanted this place to become a focus in the area, as well as bring people into the building,” says Wardle, who also landscaped one of the adjoining laneways to include a vegetable garden.

Margaret Lawless, originally from Ireland, was keen to give the cafe a sense of her culture. So the menu includes soda bread and black pudding.

”The place has a distinctly Australian feel, but there’s a certain Irish twist,” says Lawless, who wanted a clean and minimal space in harmony with the light and streetscape.

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

Sonny Bill Williams may play in Roosters’ trial against Newcastle

14/10/2018 | 南京夜网 | Permalink

SBW focused on getting even better
Nanjing Night Net

The Newcastle Knights are preparing to play against code-hopping match-winner Sonny Bill Williams and other Sydney Roosters superstars in a trial at Wyong on Saturday.

Featuring players not involved in the Auckland Nines this weekend, the Knights and Roosters will meet at 6.30pm at Morry Breen Oval.

The reigning NRL premiers plan to use the game as part of their preparation for the World Club Challenge against Wigan at Allianz Stadium the following Saturday.

Of the team that eclipsed Manly 26-18 in the NRL grand final last October, only five players – Mitchell Pearce, Jake Friend, Aidan Guerra, Daniel Tupou and Shaun Kenny-Dowall – were named on Tuesday in the 16-man Roosters squad for the Nines.

That will leave the likes of Williams, Anthony Minichiello, Michael Jennings, James Maloney, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Boyd Cordner and Frank-Paul Nuuausala at home and potentially available to play against a predominantly second-string Knights squad.

Dally M winger of the year Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is still recovering from the leg injury he suffered in New Zealand’s 34-2 loss to Australia in the World Cup final last November but is reportedly making steady progress and could also be considered.

The Knights have been told the Roosters will field some members of their senior squad alongside players from the Newtown Jets, their NSW Cup feeder team.

“They haven’t finalised their team yet, the Roosters, but we’ve heard a whisper that they’re going to give a few blokes a run before the World Club Challenge and Sonny Bill and ‘Mini’ might be among the blokes they use,” a Knights source told Fairfax Media.

The Knights team is expected to be based around a nucleus of senior players such as Clint Newton, David Fa’alogo, Korbin Sims and Travis Waddell, and emerging prospects Jake Mamo, Josh Mantellato, Matt Minto and brothers Pat and Sione Mata’utia.

In the absence of coaches Trent Robinson and Jason Taylor, who will be in Auckland in charge of their Nines squad, the Roosters will be guided by assistants Steve McNamara and Craig Fitzgibbon on Saturday.

McNamara, the England Test mentor, joined the Roosters’ coaching staff in December.

Robinson said on Tuesday that the Roosters, who have included premiership-winning former captain Brad Fittler in their Nines squad, had done no training for the pre-season tournament because they were concentrating on the game against Wigan.

“We’ve focused on the World Club Challenge,” Robinson said.

“We’ve talked clearly about the Nines with the players that are going, and even the squad that haven’t, about the approach that we want to take to playing the game but we haven’t spent time practising. We’ve spent time on our 13-a-side game, as we should.”

The Knights’ only full-blown NRL trial will be against Canberra at Tamworth on February 22.

Newcastle’s National Youth Cup and NSW Cup teams will play the Raiders and feeder club Mounties at Aubrey Keech Reserve at Hinchinbrook the following day.

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

Toyota closure: Explanation is needed on cold decisions that preceded car industry’s demise

14/10/2018 | 南京夜网 | Permalink

Federal politics: full coverageAbbott to workers: “I can’t offer false hope”
Nanjing Night Net

If the electoral ramifications of the Toyota’s decision to quit production in 2017 are unclear, it is because the decision has been cast as supra-political. Indeed, as even supra-national.

But was it that aloof from Canberra’s influence?

The line emanating from the Abbott government since the bombshell is that nothing it was doing or could have done would have changed anything.

Perhaps, but Labor says the government goaded Holden to leave and that Toyota’s decision was an inevitable consequence of that departure.

With a detached coldness, Toyota’s Japan-based management has simply decided to wind up its Australian operations up citing global conditions and market realities that make Australia’s bit of the show uneconomic.

Nonetheless, when it came late on Monday, the final shock after the pre-fatal blows by Ford and Holden, was no less devastating for the company’s 2500 direct employees.

Its implications extend well beyond them, marking the sad end of an extensive sophisticated industry that for all its critics, had substantially shaped the Australian economic achievement, molding the cultural, architectural, and technological character of post-war Australia.

But markets do not run on emotion alone, and industries cannot survive on past sales and nostalgia.

Rationalists argue persuasively that the automotive industry has been extended more than enough taxpayer assistance – some $30 billion in the past decade – and that to continue was pointless.

Supporters of assistance point to competitor car-makers around the world, arguing Australia’s assistance is lower than almost all others.

Toyota’s withdrawal is the brutal cutting edge of a broader economic transformation being championed by the new Abbott government.

Even before it has its first budget in play, it has enunciated a new guiding principle of economic responsibility in both the personal and corporate spheres. Hand-outs are out, the age of entitlement is over.

The danger for the government is that in its blind adherence to this textbook ideal, it forgets those caught in the middle.

And in the case of the death of a whole industry, the numbers are huge – as many as 30,000 to 40,000 in the components manufacture and supply chains.

For the Prime Minister, the first challenge is to demonstrate he understands the depths of the personal crisis for workers and their families. The wider economic effects are also potentially massive.

When Holden announced plans to quit, the federal government was full of sympathy, mouthing excuses that it did all it could and could have done nothing more.

However Holden insiders say as little as another $80 million a year would have seen the car-maker stay.

There were reassuring words spoken about doing more to keep Toyota operating. So the question for Abbott and his ministers is, what was done?

Whatever it was, it was clearly unpersuasive.

Labor’s former industry minister, Kim Carr is incredulous at Canberra’s apparent indifference.

He says when he was minister six months ago, Toyota was very keen to invest in new models.

If that’s true, the government has some serious explaining to do.

It could start by explaining what its plan for economic transformation actually means.

Where are the new jobs that the Prime Minister so confidently predicts will arise to fill the vacuum of the automotive sector?

In the absence of this information, Labor’s claim that the Coalition’s industry policy amounts to a white flag will have plenty of cut-through with voters.

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

Schapelle Corby interview: Seven executives might have to pray for an audience

14/10/2018 | 南京夜网 | Permalink

Before and after … Schapelle Corby’s face is unforgettable to most, but her shroud would suggest she would rather it be a distant memory. Photo: AFP/Reuters Masked from the glare of the cameras … Schapelle Corby is released from Kerobokan prison in Bali. Photo: Justin McManus
Nanjing Night Net

Koch hits out at $2m Corby dealCorby interview not certain: Mike Willesee

What’s the useful TV shelf-life of a controversial civilian superstar on a first-name basis with the country? For bruised and nervous executives at Seven and Nine the signs are that Schapelle Corby, the once sure-fire ratings draw, just ain’t what she used to be – the one-time viewers’ sweetheart appears to have become a turn-off.

After Nine’s ratings disappointment with its Schapelle telemovie on Sunday night, a fresh round of Corby programming on Monday evening delivered even more embarrassing figures, with the all-day hype surrounding Corby’s release not enough to excite viewers.

A Corby news special hosted by Peter Overton scored only 627,000 capital city viewers — barely enough to squeak past the ABC’s Media Watch. Next up, Nine offered an “encore screening” of the telemovie, hoping to make amends for the production’s poor showing on its Sunday night debut. Viewers weren’t interested: a paltry 241,000 tuned in.

That’s two bad days gone for Nine, but for Seven the headaches are still to come. Having stitched up the family in a deal for an exclusive interview, estimated to have cost north of $2 million, Seven executives will now be very nervous about the likely bang for those bucks — if Nine’s bleak experience over the past two days is anything to go by.

And today, the man expected to hold the interview’s reins, Sunday Night journalist Mike Willesee, told reporters in Bali that he is not even certain that an interview with Schapelle Corby will take place, saying only: “I really hope so”. He said he still had not met or spoken with Corby, nor any members of her family.

As criticism mounts from within his own network over the paid interview, Willesee said he did not know the figure, but that those published — between $2 million and $3 million — were “crazy … [and] way silly”.

The atrocious ratings for Nine came at the end of a day in which Australian television — all of it, the ABC included — had pushed the button on a broadcast concept that proved immensely popular when first deployed nine years ago. Back then, going The Full Corby worked a treat, especially on the day of her conviction. The nation stopped and turned to the tube for wall-to-wall Schapelle.

On Monday, this tactic looked far more risky, and the results on screen were never enough to deliver the same emotional punch of that unforgettable day in May 2005. There was no suspense, for starters, and not much to see besides. Of Corby, we saw a tiny, masked figure being squeezed through a heaving media pack to a waiting van, and it was all over so fast the moment hardly seemed to justify the media dramatics involved in trying to record it.

What Schapelle was feeling had to be assumed. What the broadcasters were feeling was written all over their faces. We could see it in the weary eyes and glistening pink foreheads. It was hot and tiring work of uncertain duration or reward.

As happens with live news events, there were delays and there was padding. Like a royal baby, Schapelle Corby was not going to be delivered according to the schedules of network executives in Australia.

For a long while her appearance was ever “imminent” – which in Bali can mean anything from two minutes to sometime next Thursday.

The money shot, when it came, was a messy television moment, an unedifying spectacle for participants and viewers alike. We at home had to take the reporters’ word for it when they said she’d been freed – on screen, all that could be detected was a crush of body parts thrashing around with the desperation of a thirsty crowd in a pub about to run out of beer. We were assured the shrouded noggin atop the tiny figure at the centre of the scrum was, indeed, Schapelle Leigh Corby, but for all we could actually see it might have been Camilla Parker Bowles.

Then came the chase; camera-wielding optimists on scooters pursuing the Corby convoy through the streets of Bali to the parole office, where we were told that somewhere inside release papers were being signed. By that point it could be assumed many viewers had decoded the reality of the day and realised that no matter which station they tuned to, all they would ever get was a promise.

The eternal promise of Schapelle, but when the moment finally came, she was nothing but a blur. In that respect, what we didn’t see on Monday was emblematic of the past 10 years: you think this Corby business will become clear any minute now, but it never quite does.

The question now is, can enough viewers muster the interest for one more close look? Seven’s Sunday Night and its star interrogator will be praying we do when their expensive exclusive is aired. To be on the safe side, Willesee — who once tried to prove the existence of God on a TV show — might be wise to ask for divine intervention again.

– with Michael Bachelard

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