Archive for November, 2018

On the face of it: Australia opts for traditional Next Top Model choice with Melissa Juratowitch

Saturday, November 10th, 2018

Melissa Juratowitch is now the face of Australia’s Next Top Model, but could we have been a little more exotic in our choice? More of the same? … Former Australia’s Next Top Model winners Alice Burdeu, Montana Cox, Demelza Reveley and Amanda Ware.
Nanjing Night Net

Bit too shiny … Australia’s Next Top Model live finale.

The diversity and ethnicity in the Australia’s Next Top Model finalists this season were hailed as the most distinct the show has ever produced.

It was billed as the year a very different model would be crowned winner in the television modelling contest, a chance to break the mould and step out of the box. An opportunity to redefine the notion of beauty in this country.

Yet Australia chose to crown 16-year-old Melissa Juratowitch winner during the live final at The Star on Tuesday night. The public ultimately opting for a doll-like winner, whose alien-like wide-eyed features fit the current catwalk brief, albeit a little on the short side.

The shock result saw underdog Juratowitch take out the eighth cycle of the show – the highest ratings for the pay television broadcaster with over 400,000 viewers a week – over the other two finalists; Sudanese Australian model Nyadak “Duckie” Thot and Fijian Indian model, Shanali Martin.

Both were hot favourites, mentor Didier Cohen openly backed Duckie – who was a front runner on social media – while designer Alex Perry stated up front he would ditch his trademark sunglasses if Shanali didn’t win quipping: “I’ve got my sunglasses riding on it”.

But in the end, Australia voted for a more traditional type of winner and opted for the established route. It felt like a a missed opportunity.

While Juratowitch does break the cookie-cutter requirements for models with her petite 173cm height (five centimetres short of the minimum requirement international scouts from IMG had recommended in the audition stages) she still fits the traditional style of winner, which to date, let’s face it, have been fair and translucent skinned. There is a certain degree of sameness. Think previous incarnations including Alice Burdeu, Montana Cox, Demelza Reveley and Amanda Ware.

Host Jennifer Hawkins told Fairfax Media ahead of the final: “They’re very diverse. It’s muliticultural and that’s great. It’s not just my decision, we all collaborated and it’s over the course of months.

“The shoots, how they performed, they’re great girls,” she said with her trademark smile firmly planted and, of course, not a hair out out of place.

“Melissa is such a stunner. She has such a modern, unique look that I think will translate on the international runways as well as in editorial … I remember the very first photo shoot from episode one, where she blew us all away, but really, she never stopped impressing us. Every week she has produced shots that we simply could not ignore and neither could the rest of Australia. What an amazing model we’ve found.”

But social media campaigns and Instagram (which became the social platform of choice for the show according to research) had overwhelmingly indicated the winner would be Duckie. There were even infographics showing her as the clear favourite to win based on popular appeal.

Coming in a close second ahead of the announcement, in the Twittersphere and on Instagram at least, was statuesque Shanali Martin.

Juratowitch was, according to the early predictions, not active enough on social media and not as popular in what was shaping up to be a popularity contest.

So when Juratowitch was announced, even she could be seen mouthing “what the f—?” as she hugged her competitor.

But the Melbourne school girl, who was plucked from the sidelines watching her friend in an early audition, took it all magnificently in her stride.

“I was waiting for her to say Shanali,” an elated but calm Juratowitch told Fairfax Media straight after the announcement, surrounded by her mum and dad,  sisters and 17 of her friends.

“I think it’s great – I’ve always been someone who’s pretty strong and if I can set an example for young girls to embrace their differences – and stop that feeling of so much pressure to look a certain way – I think it’s great.”

At 173cm (“I’m still growing”) Juratowitch is the first Aussie petite model the series has produced.

Professionally the notion is not completely impossible. Kate Moss, Gemma Ward and Bambi Northwood are famous under-standard-model-height success stories. However petite has been trialled, fairly unsuccessfully, in a cycle helmed by America’s Next Top Model host Tyra Banks.

With her Christina Ricci-esque “seven-finger forehead,” which she openly acknowledges (“I’ve always known I’m different”), Juratwich’s wide-eyed look has been described by Dawson as “alien doll” and “a unique look … a small package”.

Even tough, smart-talking judge Perry admitted for the first time in the show’s history that when it came to Juratowitch, height wasn’t such a big factor for him: “It’s all about her face.”

Harper’s Bazaar editor Kellie Hush, whose magazine’s cover Juratowitch will grace for the November 7 issue as part of her prize, says “Melissa is smaller than the other girls. [She has a] great face, and she plays to that”.

Industry insiders say she will struggle to get work internationally.

Juratowitch has also pocketed $20,000 cash from TRESemme, a Nissan Dualis and a modelling contract with IMG.

Social media criticism suggested the show had become more of a popularity contest than a straight out modelling comp. Juratowitch herself says social media was incredibly important to her campaign.

“As soon as we got our phones [once we left the house] all of us girls were straight onto Twitter and Instagram,” she said.

“These days, as a model, you have to communicate with a wide range of people, showcase all aspects of what you’re doing. These days it’s so important, as a model, to gain that following. I’ve got 12,000 Instagram followers and I only started that account a few weeks ago as my other one was hacked.”

Juratowitch says her calm exterior during filming, and in the final, is her technique for handling tough situations.

“I think I try and be calm and in the end it works for me, I don’t give myself a chance to be nervous.”

She will still complete year 11 and 12 and says she still plans on attending university.

“I’ve always wanted to do a degree, school is still important for me. But being on Top Model has completely changed my life.”

And while the winner may have been a shock, there was little else about the final’s super slick production to create watercooler talk.

Hawkins opened that big envelope without any fuss, in the final minute of the flawless live Shine production, so schmick and shiny it was almost too perfect. There were none of the gaffes, tantrums and insights into the series we have come to love and expect.

Long-time fans of the show, who may have been tuning in for some drama to dissect the next day, would have been left disappointed. Last night’s production was so tight, there was literally nothing left to talk about. The credits were rolling and the confetti falling after the blink-and-you’d-miss it announcement.

And if you heard that sigh of relief, it was Jennifer Hawkins in her striking and plunging electric blue J’Aton gown, wiping her perfectly arched brow as she sailed through her first live finale broadcast with flying colours. A giggling, perfect mannequin, whose exterior was unflappable. While viewers never really got to see past that perfectly bronzed skin to find her personal stamp on the production, there was little doubt she was more than capable and professional.

Let’s not forget the chalice of hosting Top Model has long been a poisoned one. Many more experienced presenters before her have spectacularly failed.

Previous disasters which have plagued the final production include Jodhi Meares pulling out at the eleventh hour (with Charlotte Dawson heroically saving the day in a moment Foxtel executives will never forget) and Sarah Murdoch’s global fiasco when she announced the wrong winner in 2010.

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

Cheap iOS 7 data calls a threat to telcos

Saturday, November 10th, 2018

Is iPhone 5c a flop?
Nanjing Night Net

A new calling feature in Apple’s latest operating system threatens billions of dollars of revenue that network operators such as Telstra, Optus and Vodafone receive from mobile voice calls.

The rising popularity of data-based voice calls and text messaging apps, known as “over-the-top” apps, may force telcos to adjust their charges to reflect the actual cost of providing each service to consumers.

The latest iteration of Apple’s iPhone operating system – iOS 7 – has added an audio-only function to the “Facetime” calling option, which previously allowed only video calls.

Facetime allows conversations over the internet rather than a traditional mobile voice connection. This uses the consumer’s monthly data allowance rather than a voice allowance. If a Wi-Fi connection is available, it costs nothing.

While data-based conversation apps such as WhatsApp, Viber and Skype have been available for years, embedding the VOIP option in the phone’s operating system increases the chances it could go mainstream.

The cost of making a VOIP call is the same for domestic and international calls, potentially slashing call costs for consumers. It could be used while travelling to reduce call costs, although would only avoid roaming charges if used exclusively on free Wi-Fi networks – using data on a foreign mobile network can be exorbitantly expensive.

A spokeswoman for Apple in Australia said the audio function was “more about the quality of the call and international calls”. The amount of data used by an audio call would depend on the type of, and congestion in, the network, she added. Facetime Audio provided a deeper and closer voice experience than normal mobile calls when tested by Fairfax Media, including international calls.

Despite the cannibalisation of their revenue streams, a spokeswoman for Vodafone said it did not block Facetime Audio and was not concerned about losing revenue. This is because voice and texts were “infinite” on their Red plans, whereas VOIP used up data allowances, which were limited. The quality of the VOIP call also varied depending on the data connection, she said.

“Generally VOIP provides a slightly degraded call experience compared to a regular phone call that is still very easy to hear and be heard by the person on the other end,” she said.

A spokesman for Telstra said it was ”theoretically possible” for the telco to disable functions like Facetime Audio, “but it’s probably not something we would consider if for no other reason than it would have an adverse impact on how our customers want to use our network,” he said, adding that voice traffic gets priority on Telstra’s network.

“Our current offers include very large value inclusions such that we don’t think there are many good reasons for customers to pursue these types of products. A further point to note is that, while we aren’t releasing further details at this stage, we are considering our own enhanced messaging solutions for consumers,” he said.

The number of phone calls made over Telstra’s network has increased steadily from 11 billion minutes in 2008-09 to 20.4 billion minutes in 2012-13, but it does not reveal how much revenue comes from voice-only mobile use.

Telstra estimates a 10 minute VOIP call on a mobile would use about 6 megabytes [MB] of data while the same video call would use about 300 MB. But another VOIP app called Viber estimates its app uses about 2.3 MB for a ten minute call.

Senior consultant and telecommunications analyst firm Ovum, Craig Skinner, said a “major one-time price rebalancing” could bring the prices of voice and data in line with the costs of providing the service.

“The basic problem is that mobile retail price structures bear little relation to traffic costs. Voice and data services impact differently on total revenues and costs, meaning that voice decline affects profitability disproportionately. Until these divergences are addressed, tensions between network operators and [apps] will continue,” he said.

Globally, network operators will lose up to $US12 billion of mobile revenue in 2013 and $US27 billion of fixed revenue as people move to “over the top” apps, according Ovum.

Mr Skinner said Apple added the new feature primarily to capture market share in the US, where many mobile plans still have unlimited data and consumers have a high incentive to avoid voice costs.

“For Apple [Facetime Audio] is more about locking people into their services and using it to call customers on other iPhones. In the US it is substantially cheaper to make the data call. If you are an iPhone customer calling another iPhone customer it is cheaper, but if you are calling an Android customer you have to pay more,” Mr Skinner said.

This copies the mobile network operators’ tactic of trying to lock customers in by offering free calls within their network.

It would be technically possible for Australian carriers to charge different rates for data-voice calls, but would need regulatory approval and could be unpopular.

“If there was not a regulatory problem then technically carriers could look at the packets [of data travelling on the network] – ‘this one is voice and this one is video’ – and separate it out and charge different rates,” Mr Skinner said.

“While all of the carriers might secretly think about it and want to do it – like a bank putting up interest rates – none of them would want to be the first to try it.”

Meanwhile, foreign telcos revenues have been slashed by data-based applications. In the Netherlands, network operator Hi Brand has suffered a 62 per cent decline in text messaging volumes since early 2012 as customers moved to cheaper data-based messaging, according to a recent report by Citi’s Asian telecoms analysts.

In Spain and the Netherlands, where telcos have been hardest hit, nearly all pre-paid customers admit to using Wi-Fi to make calls and send messages, thereby avoiding network costs altogether.

“Expensive voice pricing coupled with relatively affordable data pricing (€12/1.5GB of data) creates pressure on voice and even SMS revenues for the European names,” the Citi analysts found.

 How to use Facetime Audio 

– Select a contact

– iOS 7 gives the option to call or text “mobile”, or call or videocall with “Facetime”

– Push the telephone icon next to Facetime

– A digital dial tone rather than a normal “bring-bring” is used

– The other party can receive the Facetime call as normal, as long as they have the new operating system installed

– Call quality depends on mobile or Wi-Fi network congestion.

– iOs 7 only available on iPhone 4 and above

– Can be used for international calls

– Using a Wi-Fi network would not use the data allowance at all

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

Jacqui Lambie celebrates Senate win, switches to Palmer line on carbon tax

Saturday, November 10th, 2018

Successful Palmer United Party Senate candidate Jacqui Lambie in Burnie, Tasmania.Federal politics coveragePUP candidate claims Senate seat
Nanjing Night Net

In the end, the result was in the hands of “the big man upstairs”, newly elected Palmer United senator Jacqui Lambie said. And by that, she didn’t mean Clive Palmer.

“No, no, not this time around,” Ms Lambie said, minutes after the Senate preferences distribution gave her the final Tasmanian seat.

“Once it gets to that point, it’s up to God upstairs. There’s not much else I can do about it.”

Ms Lambie, who came onto the national stage after the election with a promise to be tougher than Pauline Hanson, said she had shared the thrill of her win with sons Brenton, 22, and Dylan, 19.

“They said: ‘You bloody beauty’.”

The 42-year-old single mother squeezed past the Liberals’ Sally Chandler and the Sex Party’s Robbie Swan to win a seat in the new Senate next July.

Under mentoring from Mr Palmer, which she described as very open-ended, Ms Lambie is also learning about a united party voice.

Her initial support for some sort of carbon tax has been abandoned.

“Oh no, I just buggered that up,” she said. “I’ll be honest. On the day it was a little bit nerve-racking with all you media around me. But no. My carbon tax is the same as the Palmer United Party’s. Is that there’ll be no carbon tax.”

Ms Lambie also partly joined the PUP line with concerns about the Australian Electoral Commission.

“I think there needs to be some reform about,” she said. “But everything is very clean swept down here in Tasmania. I’ve had no issues whatsoever.”

The issue that did bring the former military policewoman alive as she stood in the lobby of the AEC in Hobart was treatment of war veterans and injured defence personnel.

With almost nine months to wait until she takes her seat in the Senate, Ms Lambie said she would be using the time to take their case up to the Abbott government.

“There’s nothing to stop us coming out with solutions now,” she said.

“I know the Liberal Party is very aware of my concerns when it comes to war veterans and injured defence personnel. So if they don’t come through with it I’m going to ask for a royal commission … on the management practices of Veterans Affairs. Because it’s way overdue.”

She put her eventual win down to major party disillusionment. It leaves the Liberals and Labor each returning two senators, and the Greens one from Tasmania.

“I think people have had enough, and they’re sick of the lies. Come out and tell the truth. if you cannot achieve something come out and tell people you cannot achieve them, and then swing back around and see if you can fix the problem.

“Walking around and not being held accountable for your decisions – that’s not good enough.”

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

Memoir of a prime minister: Julia Gillard to lift the lid on parliament

Saturday, November 10th, 2018

Portrait of Julia Gillard when she was Prime Minister of Australia. Photo: Nic Walker & Louie DouvisLife after parliament: Julia explains what’s next
Nanjing Night Net

Australia’s biggest publishing house, Penguin Random House, has stolen the march on its competitors and is to publish the much-anticipated memoirs of the nation’s first female prime minister, Julia Gillard.

Gillard has promised to give a frank account of her six years as deputy Labor leader, deputy prime minister and prime minister in a book to be published in October 2014.

Still immaculately groomed in her prime ministerial style, Gillard said in a promotional video she had wanted to commit to the memoir while the events of her political career were “emotionally and intellectually fresh to me”.

The memoir will be “my words direct”, written by Gillard herself, and will weave together the personal and political but will not be an intimate autobiography reaching back to her childhood and school days.

Instead, she wanted to answer questions constantly put to her about her motivations and how she coped with political life. While she thought it might be a struggle at times writing her account of her days in parliament, she said she enjoyed writing and was a “good typist” because her mother insisted she learn as a teenager so she could always get a job.

Gillard had recently been rumoured to be in talks with Penguin. Wednesday’s announcement by Gabrielle Coyne, chief executive officer of the newly merged Penguin Random House, represents the first major signing to the mega publisher.

The book will be published under the Knopf imprint of Random House Australia and is scheduled for publication in October 2014.

Nikki Christer, Random House Australia’s publishing director, said she was delighted and honoured to be publishing the memoir.

“There is much in Julia Gillard’s life and parliamentary legacy to be admired and debated,” she said. “In any reckoning of her achievements, both before and after becoming prime minister, this book, written by her and told in her own words, will be essential. I most certainly expect it to be not only one of the most anticipated books of 2014 but also one that is read and studied for a very long time.”

Gillard, who approached Coyne, said she will be touring the book when it is released. Without naming her political nemesis Kevin Rudd, Gillard said she wanted to distil for readers her achievements and her mistakes – “what drove me, where I erred; my personal resilience and how I coped”.

“I want to share my perspective on the issues of our times and how I strove to make a difference for the better every day I had the privilege of serving as prime minister,” she said in an accompanying statement. “I will also write about changing our nation and future challenges in the years ahead.”

Gabrielle Coyne said: “Ms Gillard’s personal and professional journey so far is a unique one. Many of us have observed the conviction and resilience that drove her commitment to the Labor cause and public policy debate in Australia and abroad for nearly two decades. It is a genuine privilege to be given the opportunity to work with her to help bring her story to readers in Australia and around the world.”

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

Christopher Pyne’s review of university places cap a ‘clear broken promise’

Saturday, November 10th, 2018

Christopher Pyne. Photo: Andrew MearesThe Abbott government has been accused of reconsidering caps on tertiary places as an ”alibi for cutting university funding”.
Nanjing Night Net

Acting Labor leader Chris Bowen accused the Coalition of walking away from its pre-election promises as he warned regional universities and aspiring students from less wealthy families would be the big losers if caps on places were reintroduced.

New Education Minister Christopher Pyne said on Tuesday he would review the uncapped system, warning any loss of quality would ”poison” the sector’s international reputation.

”Quality is our watchword and we aren’t bound by the previous government’s policy decisions,” he told Fairfax Media.

Labor’s higher education spokesman, Kim Carr, said he agreed the nation’s higher education sector needed to strive for excellence but the review was a ”clear broken promise”.

”It’s an ideologically driven exercise in trying to reshape the university system to their liking,” Senator Carr said.

”This is a return to their old political positions which I might say they weren’t gracious enough to mention during the election.”

Labor removed caps on the number of Commonwealth-supported university places, helping an extra 190,000 students to access higher education. This move to a ”demand-driven system” sparked concerns from some quarters about quality suffering and the rising cost to taxpayers.

The Coalition has long argued for an emphasis on quality as a key priority in the higher education sector, but played down speculation it may end the demand-driven system.

In a media release headlined ”Coalition will not cap places or raise HECS” on August 26 last year, Mr Pyne said he welcomed debate over quality and standards in universities, but had ”no plans to increase fees or cap places”.

And in an interview on ABC’s 7.30 program on July 17 this year, Mr Pyne said the Coalition had ”no plans to restore the cap” and believed the more students attending university, the better.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, when opposition leader, told a Universities Australia conference in February: ”A period of relative policy stability in which changes already made can be digested and adjusted to, such as the move to demand-driven funding, is probably what our universities most need now.”

Mr Bowen said the review would provide an excuse to cut university funding.

”If you abolish the demand-driven system you are cutting university funding,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

”That clearly wasn’t in their savings pre-election, and in fact we were told time and time again that education wouldn’t be cut. Guess what? Universities are education and abolishing the demand-driven system is a massive cut to university funding.”

Mr Pyne told ABC Radio on Wednesday he had not decided to bring back caps and accused Labor rival Mark Butler of living in “complete la la land” for arguing against a review.

”You must be living in a bubble … if you think that there is not an issue in universities about whether there are quality issues about the extraordinary number of students being enrolled,” Mr Pyne said.

During the radio debate, Mr Butler had accused Mr Pyne of ”cloaking a broken promise and an intention to impose cuts on universities with language about quality”.

Education consultant Andrew Trnacek, from advisory firm Grant Thornton, said a review of the demand-driven model made financial sense.

”It was the introduction of an uncapped demand driven model into the Victorian TAFE system that saw budgets balloon by $400 million,” he said.

”The problem with such funding mechanisms is that the government loses the ability to manage demand and therefore costs.”

A recent Grattan Institute report said expenditure on the demand-driven system was expected to increase by nearly 45 per cent over eight years, costing more than $11 billion a year by 2017.

Mr Pyne identified the review of the demand-driven system as one of his top three priorities for the higher education portfolio, alongside a desire to revive Australia’s international education market and cut tertiary sector red tape.

He said the review was simply about investigating whether the system was affecting quality as some had claimed.

Mr Pyne also confirmed the government would axe the compulsory fee collected by universities to support student services and scrap Labor’s targets to lift participation by disadvantaged students.

He said the student services and amenities fee introduced by Labor was ”compulsory student unionism by the back door” and the Coalition would abolish it – in line with its past opposition to the levy.

Mr Pyne said the government would axe Labor’s specific targets to increase participation by those from low socio-economic backgrounds to 20 per cent by 2020, and to have 40 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds holding a bachelor degree or higher by 2025.

Although he wanted to increase participation, Mr Pyne said he believed in outcomes rather than ”targets for targets’ sake”.

Senator Carr likened the targets to affirmative action, saying such goals were important ways to change behaviour. The axing of the targets would ”entrench inequality” and reinforce ”the great social divides in Australia”.

Senator Carr said the amenities fee was extremely important for students’ university experience and provided up to $300 million in economic activity. Labor was unlikely to vote to support the axing of the fee.

Labor and the Greens maintain their control of the Senate until June next year.

Greens higher education spokeswoman Lee Rhiannon said it was time for Mr Pyne and his colleagues to ”get over their ideological obsession that student organisations are hot beds of dissent”.

The Abbott government will put forward legislation to implement more than $2 billion in savings to higher education and student support originally announced by Labor in the May budget.

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