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  1. We Feature Our Businesswomen on International Women's Day
    We Feature Our Businesswomen on International Women's Day
    In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, Australian Life approached four inspirational Buy Aussie Now female business owners to tell us what it took to start their own brands. Angela Infantino of chic online pet accessories store, Molly Barker was selling display homes when she moved into a new property  herself with her dog, Molly. “She’s a big dog and I couldn’t find anything that complemented my decor - everything was very cheesy. So, I saw a gap in the market and I was in a stage of my career when I was ready for a change.” She started Molly Barker from her savings at the beginning of 2018 as added more money over time as she sourced materials. “This was the greatest challenge. I probably contacted 80 manufacturers and I really had to think outside the box for people who could fashion the quality and detail I wanted in leather collars. I went everywhere from upholstery makers to the adult industry to find someone,” she says. Despite many people telling her to “give up luv, cause you’re not going to make any money” she preserved and sees her business grow, year-on-year, thanks to retail platforms like Buy Aussie Now. With skin cancer one of the third most diagnosed cancers in Australia, shielding our skin from the harmful rays of the sun is crucial. However finding rashes and long sleeved swimsuits that look fashionable is a challenge. Enter the light skinned Caitlin Byrnes - the former business analyst and mother of two behind Shy Skin Beachwear, which can also be found on the Buy Aussie Now site.  “As I was growing up, there  were more products on the market to accelerate a tan than to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. School tunics had no sleeves, there was no hat policy at school, no rashvests for the beach and no real understanding of covering up for sun protection. “After many years searching for cool long sleeve clothes and long sleeve swimwear to wear in the hot summer months, I decided to take matters into my own hands and Shy Skin was born,” she explains. It’s designed and made in Australia from recycled marine waste and recycled plastics, in an environmentally safe process.” But she also knew that to succeed her beachwear would have to look the part and the result is a range of great looking sun protection swimwear options for women and children. Buy Aussie Now brand, NueBar is a  shampoo and body bar company, which was founded by a couple - former stuntwoman, turned art director, Kerry Wood and naturopath, Kati Hennah, who both swore they would never go into business together. But then in 2018, they had the idea to create the ultimate ecological  range of beauty products. Ten months and $70k later the business was up and running. “As a naturopath,  Kati, could write her own formulas, so we knew they would be perfect,” says Wood. NueBar is unique, effective and unlike any other solid hair and body bar brand on the market. It’s the only 100% handmade and naturopathically formulated range of solid hair and body bars in the world. “Our other unique features include our pH balanced formulation, our use of high-quality and highly beneficial ingredients, our transparency, the concentration of our bars and our support of eco-initiatives.” So far NueBar is just available in Australia despite there being  overtures from some outlets around the world, as the two women are determined to keep everything handmade and to oversee production Australian women are among the most resourceful anywhere especially Laura Eddington, a former Science teacher and the founder of Little Bumble Food Wraps, who comes from Gippsland in Victoria. “While on maternity leave, I became frustrated at the food wastage and plastic pollution that was occurring in my own home. Being raised on the land and striving to be more sustainable, I researched an alternative to plastic wrap. I put my knowledge and skills together to develop a  reusable food wrap in an all-natural formula to maximise the freshness of food,” she says. It was launched in 2017. Buy Aussie Now brand, Little Bumble Food Wraps allow your food to breath and acts as a natural cover. They reduce moisture build up and are antibacterial which means you’ll be able to keep food fresher for much longer. “I am proud to have developed a well-recognised, acclaimed, and unique formula that can keep cut avocados fresh for up to 2 weeks, cucumbers 3 weeks and even leafy greens and herbs for 5 weeks,” she says. Thanks to Laura Eddington and her Little Bumble Food Wraps, plastic wrap could also become as obsolete as single use supermarket bags. There’s something that these four Buy Aussie Now brands have in common, they’re helping us all to have healthier and happier lifestyles. And it took Aussie Women to do that. ABOUT THE WRITER Ros Reines is a Sydney journalist and the author of four books. She is currently penning her fifth - a memoir of a life in the media.
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  2. Aussie Women In Film
    Aussie Women In Film
    This year’s 78th Golden Globe Awards is a moment in history and not only because it is being held in the eye of the Covid storm but because the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has nominated three female directors in the Best Director In A Motion Picture category. They include Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman, Regina King for One Night In Miami and Chloé Zhao for Nomadland. That’s three out of five possible nominations, which also included David Fincher for Mank and Aaron Sorkin for The Trial of the Chicago 7. It’s a positive sign of the lucrative power of female directors and one that may have a rollon effect in the Australian film industry, which also has many strong female directors, ready to take their share of big budget productions. But back to the Golden Globes, which is due to take place on February 28th at the Beverly Hilton (and incidentally has two female hosts, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.) According to US trade publication, Variety, it’s the first time in history that more than one woman was nominated for best director. Only five women have ever been nominated previously – Barbra Streisand (for 1983’s Yentl and 1991’s The Prince of Tides), Jane Campion (for 1993’s The Piano), Sofia Coppola (for 2003’s Lost in Translation) and Kathryn Bigelow (for 2010’s The Hurt Locker and 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty). Streisand is the only woman to ever win the Globe for directing Yentl. But this year could be different. It seems that female directors are very popular right now, which some commentators attribute to a reaction to the #metoo movement, which was in its earliest days, a Hollywood story. However it might also have something to do with a woman’s unique perspective and the fluency of their language to communicate emotions, which increasingly resonates with audiences, shell shocked by the pandemic. Australia is well placed to champion its female directors at present thanks to an influx of major film productions. During the pandemic, Australia has been seen as a relatively safe destination to shoot and the government has also been dangling huge carrots to attract overseas productions. Last July, AusFilm chief executive, Kate Marks said the location marketing agency had received $1.2 billion worth of genuine inquiries from the makers of about 20 US-backed movies and TV series. Marks now believes international projects worth $460 million have tapped federal and state filming incentives to base themselves here this year. Australian female directors will no doubt benefit from the money that is also being indirectly pumped into the local industry and increasingly circulated.   Just last week, it was reported that Disney’s Marvel, who currently have Thor: Love and Thunder underway at Fox Studios, will shoot more blockbuster films in Australia. Marvel has already invested in the celebrated Australian film maker, Cate Shortland, who directed  the Marvel movie, Black Widow, which will open later this year. There’s many other female directing names to watch out for including  Nel Minchin - who co-directed Fire Starter - The Story of Bangara with Wayne Blair, which is currently in the cinemas. Another stellar name is Danielle MacLean who wrote and directed Queen Of  Hearts and worked on Mystery Road season two, which debuted at the Berlin International Film Festival. And Korean Australian film-maker, Unjoo Moon who directed the Helen Reddy biopic, I Am Woman. Closer to home, award-winning stage and screen director, Shannon Murphy directed Babyteeth with Essie Davis and Ben Mendelsohn. Of course, there’s many more names but with such a wealth of female directorial talent on display in this country, there could well be a female-lead recovery for the Australian film industry. And this  could be just as powerful as the one shaking up the Golden Globes Best Motion Picture Nominations now. ABOUT THE WRITER Ros Reines is a Sydney journalist and the author of four books. She is currently penning her fifth - a memoir of a life in the media. 
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  3. Our Businesses Share Their 2021 Tips
    Our Businesses Share Their 2021 Tips
    Since the Buy Aussie Now marketplace went live this January, it’s become an Australian manufacturing love in and a celebration of our stunning natural resources and all the organic produce that our continent has to offer. Buy Aussie Now is so much more than a retail platform. It speaks to a way of life that will allow us all to become self- sufficient and to employ more people, especially in  rural areas that have borne the brunt of natural disasters including drought, bush fires and floods. However the Aussie spirit is not only about resilience but about ingenuity and always finding a way forward. To that end, the site is growing with over 6250 registered sellers with more than 100 new brands joining each week. We’re also flourishing on social media with in excess of 45,000 Instagram followers and a newsletter audience of 30,000. That’s certainly a lot of potential shoppers browsing in our store. This week, we’re asking some of the people behind the Buy Aussie Now brands to share the love and tell us about their experiences on the site. Emily Whishaw of fashion label, Isle Of Summer is new to Buy Aussie Now but the former chartered accountant from Queensland, already feels a sense of triumph for being able to promote and sell her ethically and locally sourced label on the site.  “I have a lot of devotees on my social media channels who expect me to be transparent about how my clothing ranges are made,” she says. "In the past I manufactured in Bali and it has been a challenge to not only source material in Australia but also everything else that goes with it including the buttons and the threads. It’s been particularly tough during the pandemic - not only in finding people to work but to buy our clothes in tough economic conditions. "The Buy Aussie Now site is finally a step forward in getting our message out to customers. I design clothes for women of all sizes and they’re immensely practical and adaptable. The Isle of Summer ranges can be adapted to be worn through pregnancy and beyond. I don’t believe in fast fashion but in garments that will be treasured always." Robert Pearse of Olive’s Olives, was  established in 2008 and is a family run, 300-tree grove in the heart of the Macedon Ranges just north of Kyneton in Victoria. The whole green and black olives are handpicked and naturally cured and preserved and Olive’s Olives also makes Pure Olive Paste. "We’re still recovering after being run off our feet in the lead up to the festive season when we were supplying olives for the popular Buy Aussie Now hampers, “ says Robert Pearse, ``and we’re now hoping that the Easter hampers will be just as enticing. It was also great to be promoted with other great artisan brands. “ Helen Mansbridge, a former speech pathologist, now has the  Tasmanian brand, Pili Pala Pieces. She became a huge fan of The Buy Aussie Now platform when one of her handmade vases was mentioned on a BAN Instagram post and the post went viral, bringing a non-stop stream of new customers. Pili Pala is actually the Welsh name for butterfly and also the nickname for her daughter. (Helen and her husband spent time working in Wales before returning to Australia). Helen has always loved creating beautiful pieces with natural resources. However it’s her earrings including studs, hoops and drop earrings that are proving the greatest magnet for Buy Aussie Now sales. Peter Ralph of the Rusty Owl Sunbury is currently battling Victoria’s lockdowns, which are having an adverse effect on his business. "Customers are losing confidence as they don’t know what will happen next,” he says. However Buy Aussie Now has provided a destination for shoppers wishing to invest in the luxury of the `Rusty Owl’s Aussie-made soaps including Lemon Myrtle, Lemongrass and French Pea, which they have found comforting. The various lockdowns have also lead to a boost in homewares and `Rusty Owl’s metal garden creatures including fairies and kangaroos have become increasingly popular. "I think Buy Aussie Now is a fabulous concept, “ says Karen Enis of Me & Amber - the stationery brand, which includes whimsical greeting cards and notepaper, as well as exquisite tea towels, who have marketed through Buy Aussie Now since the earliest days. Each greeting card and notebook in their collection is screen printed by Karen and Amber, one by one, in their Sydney studio. The duo keep the environment in mind with sustainable materials including recycled paper, water-based inks and durable fabrics. They produce all their work in Australia. Right now, the pair, who have known each other since their school days, are gearing up for the Mother’s Day sales, which are certain to be a feature of the Buy Aussie Now site. "At the very least, we’re hoping that everyone will want to personalise their gifts with one of our cards,” says Karen. "We’re always on message, which means investing in Australia.”
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  4. Business Of Love
    Business Of Love
    What’s the price of love, in Australia? This Valentine’s Day it’s expected to be more than $1 billion, according to Jana Bowden, Associate Professor Marketing, Macquarie Business School. After all, Valentine’s Day is the biggest retail event for Australians after Christmas, birthdays, weddings and anniversaries. According to Bowden, in 2021  even those in the throes of puppy love will not miss out. "This year we will even be buying for our extended family members - our pets, which is a pandemic boom category,” she says. "In fact in 2020 in Australia, 60% of pet owners considered their pet a member of the family. Pet ownership and spend on pet accessories is on the rise. If the US is anything to go by approximately 30% of consumers will buy Valentines gifts for their pets this year.” Associate Professor Bowden explains that some of our spend for gifts is all thanks to a boost to our savings accounts, as we’re not spending on big tickets items like international travel this year. "We have accumulated AUD $60 billion in unspent international travel funds with a total of AUD $100 billion in Covid-19 savings coming into 2021,” she says. And so what will we spend it on? "The leading statistics from the US already indicate that we will be spending less on experiences and more on physical gifts this year. But the average spend per gift will be up, as will the total Valentine’s Day spend. And - millennials will be leading the way,” she says Maybe the 30-somethings are the the ones who have booked out the $800 plus per night rooms at Crown Sydney this weekend? The hotel’s online booking portal indicates that Friday/Saturday and Sunday nights are  already blacked out for the entry level rooms. Many of Crown’s dazzling array of restaurants are also full this weekend, which is not surprising, since its recent opening, Crown has become Sydney’s favourite selfie backdrop. It has new levels of decadence including the fashionable Woodcut restaurant with Valentine’s Day treats prepared including  Strawberry and Rosella Mimosas; Peaches and Cream Martinis; Wood Roasted  Lobster and Valentine’s Petit Fours. Since it falls this year on Sunday, for many, Valentine’s Day  turns into a three day love fest. "We’re  certainly finding that this year,  love is being spread over a few days with corporate or workplace gifting starting on Friday and continuing over the weekend, “ says Cherrie Miriklis-Pavlou, Managing Director Flowers Vasette - one of Melbourne’s most fashionable florists. According to Mirkiklis-Pavlou - the Valentine’s day edit starts at $90 and goes up to $550 for those who would like to make a real declaration of love.” "Covid has changed the dynamics of what we will do and how we will do it,” adds Associate Professor Bowden. "The move to cocoon - to build our home environs and to focus on our family and loved ones during the pandemic has meant that consumers have turned their attention inwardly. "We’ll  spend more time and money investing in our immediate family and friends. Leading statistics suggest that we will be also buying for others this year not just for our close family,” she explains. And of course, some of us will use Valentine’s Day simply as an excuse to spoil ourselves. "I expect that Australians  will follow the US trend where 15% of consumers will buy a Valentine’s gift for themselves, ” says Jana Bowden. Indulging yourself is always a good idea and at least, there will be no need to return it as you always know exactly what you want, especially if it’s one of Buy Aussie Now’s excellent  Valentine’s Day offerings. Top Ten Buy Aussie Now Valentine’s Gifts Schoko's Chocolatiers Assortment -12 Piece Box - $34.95 Elevating the art of chocolate to a new level of craftsmanship, one of excellence, elegance, and creativity. Wellington Jeweller / Pica LéLa Valentine's Rose Necklace / Pendant -  $179 Measurement: 3.5*2.4 cm pendant with 40-45 cm an adjustable chain Angelic Aspirations Funny Relationship Magnet - $6.00 This fun magnet proclaims that my partner would take a bullet for me … QQ La Praline - Valentine chocolate hamper - $88 Cherish your loved ones  or yourself with a curated Valentine hamper, that nobody can resist. Me & Amber - Heart Greeting Card - $7.95 A simple, exquisitely illustrated heart card to set the right note on the big day. Empaness  - Sterling Silver Heart Charm Bracelet - $45 This handmade sterling silver heart charm bracelet is so delicate & pretty. The charm is 15mm x 14mm in size & bracelet is 19cm long. Pure Living Tasmania - Heart Soap - $9.95 Handmade in Tasmania - this gorgeous heart shape soap in an organza bag s a lovely gift for a love on Valentine’s Day* Aussie Gem Designs - Heart Sterling Silver Pendant - $75 Add this artistic three heart pendant to your favourite chain. It measures 50mm x 32mm x 1.5mm En Flor- Handmade Floral Decor - The Rice Flower Botanical Bottle  - $57 Floral Decor handcrafted to perfection by En Flor Sonder and Soul - One Shot Bath Soak Gift Set - $24.95 Unable to decide on which soak to buy, why not try all four with our One Shot Bath Soaks gift set. ABOUT THE WRITER Ros Reines is a Sydney journalist and the author of four books. She is currently penning her fifth - a memoir of a life in the media. 
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  5. Is Australia The New Hollywood?
    Is Australia The New Hollywood?
    On Saturday, Zac Efron and his girlfriend, Vanessa Valladares were spotted poolside, hiding away in one of the cabanas at the lavishly appointed, Crown Sydney. Maybe they shouldn’t have so shy as locals are becoming increasingly blasé at seeing international stars here. It’s not surprising because for a variety of reasons, this country is becoming one of the most desirable places on earth for A-list actors. Forget about Hollywood, it’s all about Aussiewood.  Zac Efron, who’s been here for months, recently starred in a Gold - a Stan original production, shot in South Australia. He joins a stellar line up in Australia that includes Academy award winning actress, Natalie Portman, who’s in Sydney shooting Marvel’s Thor: Love And Thunder (and apparently so relaxed that she’s been spotted in the aisles of  Woolworths, Double Bay). Portman’s director husband, Benjamin Millepied is also in town shooting a film adaption of the opera, Carmen and their children are reportedly enrolled in a local private school. Meanwhile Sacha Baron Cohen and his Australian wife, Isla Fisher have relocated to Australia and have also enrolled their children in Sydney. It’s a timely move. Australia is attracting all these Hollywood A-listers because of the way we’ve managed to to keep Covid 19 under control and also because the Australian Government is offering cash for overseas productions including a $400 million Location Incentive. According to industry sources this is helping to secure screen productions worth more than $2 billion with at least 37 projects under way. Most are being shot in New South Wales and Queensland Among them the aforementioned film, Carmen, which is a modern adaption of the classic opera, starring Paul Mescal, Melissa Barrera and Elsa Pataky. And then of course, there’s Baz Luhrmann’s bio-epic, shooting on the Gold Coast with a cast that includes Tom Hanks. It’s  now slated for release next year. “Australia really does have the winning combination of some of the best talent globally, both in front of and behind the camera,” AusFilm chief executive Kate Marks, recently told a parliamentary committee. "We have state-of-the-art studio facilities, incredibly talented and creative post-production and visual effects studios, and locations which can double for almost anywhere around the world.” Signalling an intention to shoot original productions in Australia, last year, global streaming giant Netflix hired Que Minh Luu as its Director of Local Originals for Australia. She was previously an executive producer at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. As well as the Hollywood studios, TV productions and streaming services also including Disney are at work in Australia and they’re helping to provide steady employment for local actors and crew, not to forget attendant industries including travel and hospitality. “I think Australia is uniquely placed to handle US productions,” says Australian director and producer, Stavros Kazantzidis, whose credits include Horseplay, Russian Doll and Love & Other Catastrophes. “Screen Australia with Graeme Mason’s strong leadership, along with the State Film agencies, have created the context for our film industry to handle the influx and grow beyond the end of the pandemic,” he says. “We have a plethora of talent and know how from the content wizards like Tony Ayers - to world class facilities including Soundfirm and Animal Logic. So from this awful situation with `Covid’ - a new horizon could well be opening up.” Screen Australia is estimated to have provided about $8 million to productions with a combined budget of about $330 million that have been shutdown or disrupted by the pandemic with more than 20 projects receiving emergency funding from the government. Meanwhile Matt Damon and his family emerged from quarantine last weekend to spend time with Chris Hemsworth’s family including his Spanish actress wife, Elsa Pataky at Lennox Head, on the NSW near Byron Bay. It’s not exactly Malibu Beach’, it’s better.  The roll call of other top names who have flown in include Idris Elba, Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Melissa McCarthy and Paul Mescal.  That’s almost enough stars to make a less than shabby red carpet at an Awards Ceremony. Many regional locations in NSW, Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia are also benefitting from brushes with celebrities. It’s because our terrain has everything to offer film-makers - from deserts to idyllic lakes and mountain ranges, which combined with our laidback style is a winning combination. The influx of new film and television projects is expected to last well into next year and along the way will provide not only excellent training and experience for our talent and crew but increasing recognition around the world. ABOUT THE WRITER Ros Reines is a Sydney journalist and the author of four books. She is currently penning her fifth - a memoir of a life in the media. 
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  6. Learning From Indigenous Businesses
    Learning From Indigenous Businesses
    Indigenous businesses are so much more than the heart and soul of Australia but a sector that’s on the move. Indigenous businesses are growing at around 12.5% per annum, according to figures compiled by the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT). It’s one of the fastest growing business sectors in Australia. Around 12,000-16,000 Australian businesses are Indigenous-owned, and Indigenous self-employment rates suggest this number will grow by around 2,200 by 2026, according to DFAT. Importantly these brands are empowering First Nation’s people living in remote parts of the country and enhancing living conditions in far flung communities. And every dollar spent on an indigenous brand has the potential to generate $4.41 of social return. "You’re so right about that," says Wiradjuri woman, Fiona Harrison of Chocolate On Purpose - the bush chocolate produced in the heritage listed town of Millthorpe in the Central West of NSW, which is available on the Buy Aussie Now marketplace. "Indigenous business owners give back,“ she explains. "They will sponsor the local sporting team, mentor others in the community, share the knowledge and employ other indigenous people. But more than that - when you spend with indigenous people it’s one more strike at the stereotype that is attributed to us not being able to help ourselves,” she points out. There’s certainly no hardship when it comes to indulging in one of the many treats from Chocolate On Purpose, which is the original organic product, full of natural goodness from the bush and hand crafted. "We use very high quality Belgian couverture chocolate, which contains all of its original cocoa butter - an antioxidant,“ says Harrison. "We then add Australian indigenous botanicals, so the chocolate is the vehicle to carry this goodness to you, which is why  it’s called Chocolate On Purpose,” she says. And another of the benefits of a natural product that’s not pumped full of sugar, adds Harrison, is that it takes less chocolate to feel satisfied and there is none of those post-treat energy flips. Another indigenous brand fully committed to giving back is NATIF - Native Australian Traditional Indigenous Foods, founded by Julie Merlet - a nutritionist and wellness consultant. A social enterprise established in 2015, NATIF is 100% Australian made and owned with the products sourced from native food farmers and harvesters all around Australia. It’s also available on the Buy Aussie Now marketplace. Merlet values the importance of evidence based information about native foods to understand where they come from, how they are processed, the method and ethics of collection and rights of the Indigenous people who collect some of this produce. Apart from educating communities about nutrition and buying their crops, NATIF regularly donates to Children's Ground and Wildlife Victoria. The NATIF products are also delicious including Natif Davidson Plum And Rivermint Tea along with the many tempting herbs and spices, so supporting this brand as a consumer is a wellness experience in itself. The future looks promising for these businesses especially with the  world becoming increasingly health fixated following the pandemic. The natural goodness of indigenous foods will be in much greater demand.  Certainly our ancient civilisations have much to teach us about survival. Buy Aussie Now marketplace also values the growth and potential of indigenous businesses, which is why there’s no fees for them on the markeptlace. As Buy Aussie Now founder Mitch Catlin says, it’s all about encouraging  First Nation’s people to own their own future. ABOUT THE WRITER Ros Reines is a Sydney journalist and the author of four books. She is currently penning her fifth - a memoir of a life in the media. 
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  7. The New Face Of Online Shopping
    The New Face Of Online Shopping
    Last year was a huge one for online commerce in Australia. With the pandemic sweeping the nation and many us in lockdown, we simply turned to our screens for communication, comfort and shopping. According to statistics compiled by Australia Post, online shopping grew 45 per cent in the year to November 31, with more than 200,000 households shopping online for the first time, in the first 10 weeks of COVID-19. November was the biggest ever month in Australian online shopping history. Buoyed by shopping events including Black Friday and Click Frenzy, 5.5 million Australian households shopped from home.  A new face of online retail has also emerged among these ecommerce debutantes. It’s senior shoppers who are trying online shopping for the first time, according to Steve Kumar from consultancy Retail Oasis. Unlike millennials and Generation X who might shop in a rush of excitement to hit the Buy button and snag a bargain, Kumar believes that older online shoppers makes considered purchases that are the result of careful research. “They’re a lot more cautious, Mr Kumar explained. “Therefore if they order something online they’re a lot more likely to check everything”  before they buy. Hopefully, these seasoned consumers will be carefully monitoring where their products are manufactured. According to research giant, Roy Morgan,  the ‘Made in Australia’ promise is especially important to consumers when it comes to food, complementary health products, building and renovation, pet care, household appliances and beauty and cosmetic products. This introduction of an older demographic makes perfect sense to television personality and finance guru, David Koch, who understands this from personal experience. “My 86 year old mum is doing online shopping and loving it,” says the  television personality and finance guru. “She’s never done it before in her life, although she has done online banking but it’s now just so easy for everyone to shop online.” And it’s set to become even more enjoyable, according to Ryan Menaces, Chief Technology & Transformation Officer at GroupM, which develops digital roadmaps for businesses. Menaces says that that voice enabled smart devices including Google Smart Hub, Amazon Echo Show with Alexa and Facebook Portal, will allow commerce “to evolve from the tip of your fingers to the tip of your tongue”. Users will be able to deliver voice commands to purchase products from their smart home devices. With the pandemic expected to be a part of our lives for many months yet, these devices will deliver a virtual armchair ride to the shopping mall. Certainly, the need for isolation wrought by Covid 19 has given our society a crash course in becoming tech savvy. During 2020 we were not only taking meeting through Zoom but also staging cocktail parties and even going on dates in front of our screens. (Hello flattering, portable lights and Touch Up). All those families separated from their loved ones were also catching upon on FaceTime, which became vital in lockdown in nursing homes and hospital wards. In many situations, mobile devices are lifelines and it seems that there’s no going back. Despite the promise of widespread vaccination against Covid, returning to our favourite shopping malls is not exactly the fun experience that it once was, thanks to mask wearing rules, constant sanitising and checking in. There’s also been edicts like the one delivered by NSW Premier, Gladys Berijikilian to stay away from the CBD during the Boxing Day sales in fear of a rise in recent infections there. Although this sent many shoppers back to suburban strips, many simply scooped up Boxing Day sales on their screens. It’s online shopping that’s given consumers of all ages a viable alternative to risking their health, while snapping up a bargain. ABOUT THE WRITER Ros Reines is a Sydney journalist and the author of four books. She is currently penning her fifth - a memoir of a life in the media. 
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  8. What Should Businesses Do In 2021? 
    What Should Businesses Do In 2021? 
    The  new year is the time when Australian businesses set a blueprint for growth. For many, it’s about going back to basics, to ensure they’re on message and staying true to their brand. Working in a pandemic has naturally brought with it extreme challenges in the way that organisations do businesses. Some have barely survived. Border closures have all but decimated the once thriving Tourism industry and have proven that nothing can be taken for granted. So how do we proceed in the rapidly changing environment of a Covid normal world?  Australian Life asked some business identities to tell us their thoughts. "This is the largest reset time, condensed into the shortest period that I have ever seen in last 50 years,” says Mark Bouris - the founder and largest shareholder of home loan company Yellow Brick Road and the founder of small business advocate, mentored.com.au. "If you want to survive and thrive, then there is no time to waste, right now is critical. Not next week, not in a month’s time. Now!”, he insists. "We  all need to reset our business plans in 2021. This reset must encompass a change in the mindset about how we go about our daily business lives. It includes the hours worked, where we work from, product and service delivery,” he explains. "We should be looking at pricing strategies, distribution, brand awareness programs both digital and old school plus, inhouse tech upgrades,”  says Bouris. Television personality and finance guru, David Koch  believes it’s about having a strong online presence.  "If any small business owner every doubted why they shouldn’t have a digital footprint, 2020 should have convinced them that customers are looking for that. You can make your business so much more nimble by having a digital element to it as well. It’s stunning the number of small business owners who don’t focus on having a website and a social media presence, “ he says. "It’s really about understanding the impact of online shopping on your business.  Shopping online and doing business online have concertinaed  the next five years into one year. We’re also seeing the ripple effect of a lot more jobs in the gig economy, which has resulted in huge job growth, ” he points out. For finance commentator, Ross Greenwood, 2021 should be about enriching local Australian communities. “In a year when so many people have been confined to home, the importance of family and local community has become vitally important, “ he says. "This not only means social connection but also using the produce and businesses right on our doorstep. Supporting one another through local consumption helps communities retain money and jobs, giving hope and support during worrying times. Go local any time you can,” he comments. No one understands the effects of career burnout and stress in the current climate quite like Dr Simone Ryan.  i She was once employed 105 hours a week as a surgeon in the Public Health Service. But then one day she had a seizure in the operating theatre. As she fell to the ground, she hit her head on the operating table, breaking her nose and slicing open her face. Waking up in Emergency was the moment she knew everything had to change. She eventually resigned on the back of her Observation Chart. Dr Ryan is now the CEO of Totium  and has looked after the health and wellbeing of many corporations including Qantas, Jetstar, Optus, Suncorp and Morgan Stanley. "As a Specialist Occupational Physician, I’m madly keen on making sure that we continue to keep abreast of how our health affects our work and our work affects our health,” Dr Ryan tells Australian Life. "For businesses that have a `working from home’ request,  I urge them to keep up to date with the recommendations about human contact, surface cleaning and shared spaces. It’s about welcoming people back to the office as early as practicable and when it is deemed healthy and safe,” she says.  "In our clinics, we are seeing more and more people with early signs of reactive mental health conditions because their `home’  might be a tiny studio apartment and they’ve had to spend most waking hours there, as opposed to getting up and out the door each day to their offices (which were previously full of people contact and good working vibes!)” she explains "I’m urging our corporate clients to care for the wellbeing of their people - remembering that the “H” in “HR” stands for HUMAN. Also, we need people to be working from home and not living at work," cautions Dr Ryan. Some business identities have thrived during the pandemic. Fred Schebesta is the entrepreneurial co-founder of comparison site, finder.com.au  and also a young rich lister with an estimated $214 million fortune. "The key focus for everyone is to prepare for new opportunities," he says. "This could be a new job or a new business. After a bushfire you will find lots of new, green shoots. Those green shoots are opportunities. "It’s about doing some research about what has worked and what hasn’t.  The companies that have survived COVID-19 will thrive this year,” he predicts. "Go deeper into them. And learn one new thing really, really well. For business owners, this will help you understand different parts of your business or perhaps find new opportunities in other areas. And for employees, this education can safeguard your job, lead to new career opportunities or you may even start a side hustle.  You should prepare to jump on launching rocket ships,” he counsels. Yes, according to the dynamic  and inspirational Fred Schebesta, in 2021 anything is possible. ABOUT THE WRITER Ros Reines is a Sydney journalist and the author of four books. She is currently penning her fifth - a memoir of a life in the media. 
    Read more »
  9. Who Needs Overseas Businesses? Aussies Do It Best In Tough Times
    Who Needs Overseas Businesses? Aussies Do It Best In Tough Times
    An annus horribilis doesn’t even begin to describe 2020. Almost from the beginning 2020 ushered in death and destruction with a fast rising  2 million lives lost worldwide from Covid 19. Countless more have been left with debilitating illnesses. In the pandemic’s wake, businesses and industries have been decimated with unemployment rife, breadlines have formed and the global village is currently under siege. International and internal borders have closed, cities and schools have emptied  with working from home becoming the new normal. The most fortunate among us have learnt to live in isolation but there are so many around the world and in Australia who have not had the luxury of space. Australian Life has asked some of the nation’s business identities what they can take away from 2020?   Kurt Burnette, Chief Revenue Officer and Director Of Olympics at Seven West Media. "It’s been a year that has taught us about the power of communication. Throughout 2020, Australians have used more internet than at any other time in history.  The news sites have provided vital information about the latest virus hot spots and the numbers,  along with practical advice about where and when to get tested. "Free to air television services have become increasingly important as viewers turned to trusted stations along with the commentators and newsreaders they have come to know so well. The figures have confirmed this  with 92% of Australians watching free to air television every month. By year’s end we have started to see an increase in advertising as Australian brands are getting back on track with an incredible 15% growth in advertising in the October to December quarter. "The key words to take out of 2020 are resilience, authenticity and trust with global social networks called into account. With the an overarching need for comfort and some nostalgia in such difficult times, along with faster communication, we’ve created a new working way and attitude to take us into the next decade. At the heart of it all, is the pride in Australian brands and corporate entities along with all of those who call Australia home."   Hayley Birtles-Eades, CEO of Beinc - the Queensland-based brand strategy company. Be the biggest C word! That’s what 2020 has taught me. If there’s one  thing in life and business that has truly made a huge difference to me in 2020 it’s Collaboration! "For example, it was a crazy idea to collaborate with a competitor that saw Beinc raise $126,000 in six  weeks for an incredible charity and our client, Project Rescue Children. So, if you’re ever faced with being unable to find a direction for yourself, start with trying to help someone else. Whilst it’s not exactly a strategy for profits in the bank, it’s a definite strategy for the profits in your philanthropic bank. The impact is even greater when you’re helping others.So see beyond your immediate needs and be a hard out C word!"   James Symond, CEO of Mortgage Broker, Aussie. "It’s all about a return to old fashioned values and the merits of buying in the suburbs, which is one of the take outs of 2020. "Dwelling values continue to rise after a 2.1% drop between April and September, 2020, and CoreLogic’s national home value index is expected to surpass pre-COVID levels in early 2021, with Melbourne perhaps slower to recover than other States after a hard lockdown. "2020 has really shown the merit in buying houses instead of apartments, as there continues to be relative weakness in apartment values, compared with houses. The pandemic has also lead to renewed interest in the healthy aspects of suburban living rather than city living. "Regional area property values will continue to grow, with the border closures lifting demand from domestic investors and lifestyle changers. "It’s all part of the new working from home ethos with everyone wanting as much space around them as possible. We’re actually seeing the re-emergence of the Australian dream of a comfortable house on a generous block."   Monica Saunders-Weinberg, philanthropist.  "In many ways, 2020 has been a reset year - personally, professionally, spiritually and mentally. Inward reflection, communication and adjustments have been relevant for each facet of life. "No matter what, we all understand that health comes first, after all that is the ultimate wealth. I have never been more grateful or proud to be an Australian. I am honoured to be alongside my fellow citizens who have been considerate and mindful of each other, more so than any other country. "As we ride this Covid roller coaster we will have to continually evolve - and I trust  we will find the meaning and lessons from the crisis. Rainbows shine brightest after the storms."   Anthony Bell, CEO Bell Partners and former winning Sydney-To-Hobart Yachtsman.  "As Australian business we showed we could move fast, adapt to changing business conditions and find opportunities in crisis. "From an international perspective, Covid has opened the world’s eyes to the power of innovation that exists in Australian commerce as well as its strong markets in natural resources and property. "Keeping each other safe was our first priority and we led the world in that department as well.  We stayed in borders and spent our money inhouse that secured the livelihoods and welfare of many small, medium and large businesses and the people who work for them." ABOUT THE WRITER Ros Reines is a Sydney journalist and the author of four books. She is currently penning her fifth - a memoir of a life in the me.
    Read more »
  10. Aussies Choose Homemade Over Chinese Products
    Aussies Choose Homemade Over Chinese Products
    Throw an Australian lobster on the barbie this year. Well, perhaps not quite. Our local lobsters should be treated with the reverence that their heavenly, sweet flesh deserves. But there’s certainly more crayfish  available this year and at a good price, following restrictions placed on Australian imports by China. It’s just one of a raft of limitations on our imports that’s been brought about by escalating trade tensions between the two countries, which began with Australia’s insistence on an enquiry into the origins of Covid 19. China is our largest trading partner with two-way trade reaching a record $252 billion in 2019 and accounting for 27.4% of Australia’s trade with the world, according to figures compiled by Australian wealth management company, BT. This is far higher than that of Australia’s next largest trading partner, Japan, where two-way trade was $88.5 billion in 2019. The significant trade partnership covers many industries. According to the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, China is Australia’s primary export market. It’s also a major source of direct foreign investment and our largest agricultural goods market. Some of the restrictions include an 80% tariff on Australian barley imports, which has lead to a ban on Australia’s biggest grain exporter and the suspension of beef imports from five major meat-processing plants. It’s been crippling for our farmers and has  ricocheted all the way onto the Australian stock market with some share prices falling. Our wine exports also took a massive hit in November after China imposed tariffs of up to 212 percent on Aussie wines. This is while a lengthy investigation takes place into the supposed dumping of Australian wine in the region. China is Australia’s biggest wine export market, receiving about 37% of Australian wine exports, worth more than $800 million. This move on Aussie wine has had immediate effects around the world with political leaders from the US, UK, European Union, Japan, Germany, Italy and New Zealand, encouraging everyone to drink Australian wine is response to what is seen to be an unfair move by China. Meanwhile China officially banned Australian coal imports on Tuesday, throwing the $14 billion export industry into turmoil and leaving vessels stranded off the Chinese coastline, keen to offload thermal coal to their Chinese buyers. The message is clear this is the time for all of us to get behind Australian-made goods to support and strengthen our local manufacturers, while lessening the effects of the trade wars. It comes down to mindful shopping and always looking for the distinctive Australian-made label. It’s about choosing to shop online on  the Buy Aussie Now site where everything is locally manufactured with new brands joining daily. Buy Aussie Now is a showcase of Australian quality and originality that includes wine, fashion, homewares, toys, jewels and artisan foods. Many are award winning.  The effects of choosing to shop online this way are immediate as households spending an estimated $50 a week buying Australian-made goods would deliver a $30 billion boost to fuel the nation’s pandemic recovery and boost thousands of jobs. Also boosting the nation’s Covid recovery in a different way is making plans to entertain outdoors at  barbecues and picnics. You can’t beat the fresh air  or the simple goodness of a chargrilled Aussie steak, lamb or fresh seafood. This brings us back to those lobsters. According to the latest trade figures,  the Australian rock lobster exports are valued at around $752 million a year with  reports  from 2018 -19 showing that 94% of exports went to China. But earlier this year, China delayed imports of Australian live lobsters, which left this valuable export at serious risk of spoiling at Chinese airports waiting to be inspected. So, we should treat ourselves to a festive Aussie lobster or two and find just the right foods and wine to accompany them on the Buy Aussie Now website. This means we’ll be doing the right thing twice over.
    Read more »
  11. The Best Businesses Can Come Through Tough Times
    The Best Businesses Can Come Through Tough Times
    "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times". In his novel, A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens might well have been referring to the different patterns of life around Covid. But history has shown us that even in tough economic times people and businesses can prosper. "The key words that are so important for everyone to remember right now are opportunity, adaption and resilience," says Richie Harkham - an entrepreneur and philanthropist who co-owns several businesses including Energy Alliance, The Australian College of Physical Education and Harkham Wines. He’s experienced shocking times including nearly dying in a motorbike accident. However he became one of the first in the world to receive a live knee transplant from a young donor. It inspired him to give back in a significant way. Richie founded the charity Hark Angel, which has now built 9 schools (out of its mission to build 100 schools in total), already changing the lives of over 2000 children in developing nations. "I learnt that you have an opportunity to truly grow when you have a major struggle. Because of this I have developed a 4-step process to overcome and find these opportunities," he says. “It’s called Banking Resilience and I’m currently writing a book about it, as well as giving key note speeches to companies around the world about it, including Google last week. "In my experience the people who are going to do the best in business are those who are not afraid and can remain calm, see opportunities and take risks. When many are retreating because of a pandemic, a recession or volatility, people who are going to thrive are the ones who are not afraid to forge ahead. In my experience, it’s in the toughest of times that we will find the biggest opportunities." In Australia’s battle-worn publishing industry, which has seen many book stores shuttered during Covid, many people were surprised but thrilled at the September’ announcement of a new publishing company. Former Harper Collins chief executive James Kellow, who left the publishing giant in March, has teamed up with Sandy Grant, boss of Melbourne's Hardie Grant, to set up Ultimo Press, which aims to publish 60 fiction and non-fiction titles a year and hire up to 15 people. Ultimo hopes to release its first book next year. "The world is a strange place just now, but we've undoubtedly seen books occupy more time and space with readers," says Kellow. "Whether that’s because folk want to escape, or to understand and be better informed, it's hard to say. What it clearly shows though is the value of the book. We want to come out of this period with fresh commitments, and an undertaking to provide a platform for new voices, diverse perspectives and original ideas." Former My Kitchen Rules semi-finalist, prolific health book author, personal trainer and health coach, Scott Gooding thought he had an original idea when he opened his healthy food restaurant, The Good Place in Buddina, Queensland. “Unfortunately we were hit weeks later with an enforced closure due to Covid. But after careful consideration we decided to create The Good Feed - ready meals that embody my nutrition & ethical ethos, available to homes right across Australia." Gooding has his own rules for tough times. "The best advice is to be nimble and adaptive to hurdles and challenges. Also accept that the final version of the product is rarely how you how it started as it’s an organic, evolving process." Meanwhile proving that good things can grow from adversity, recently The New York Times published the story of Mexico City’s Cuarentena Baking, or Quarantine Baking, which was started by two artists with a (US) $42 toaster oven bought on credit. Their donuts and cakes were showcased on the Instagram account they set up and they soon amassed hundreds of clients. This allowed them to move into a bigger apartment with a proper oven. Perhaps then, it really takes having a goal in mind along with some resilience and a little luck to see you through the best of times and the worst. ABOUT THE WRITER Ros Reines is a Sydney journalist and the author of four books. She is currently penning her fifth - a memoir of a life in the med
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  12. Are Co-Working Spaces And Shared Offices The Future?
    Are Co-Working Spaces And Shared Offices The Future?
    Is remote working from home the way of the future? According to some statistics, around 85% of us would prefer never to return to the office even after the pandemic. However there’s an increasing number of negatives to working from home that are being aired on social media platforms and in comment pieces. Chief among them are feelings of isolation. Taking a shared coffee break on Zoom, while a novel experience, is nowhere near as satisfying as exchanging `war stories’ in person. The other gripes include never really leaving work but not being paid for all those extra hours. Plus the stress of trying to get it all done in a family environment. At the same time, many are reluctant to return to the CBD with its skyscrapers, cramped elevators and the discomfort of a long morning and evening commute, especially with Covid still seeding in the community. It all seems counter-intuitive to the way we wish to live now. Professor Warren Hogan, former ANZ Chief Economist and a global authority on banking and financial markets, who is the UTSSydney Business School’s inaugural Executive-in-Residence believes that in the future, many will divide their work week between the office and home. "There are increasingly firms who are permanently going to allow staff to spend a percentage of time working from home. However the reality is that we have to get through the end of the pandemic before it’s going to be clear to what extent this will be," he says. "I think the drop in demand for office space from the shift around working from home is going to be somewhere from one day a week to two and a half days a week. And what that translates into is for the existing office demand to fall between 20 to 50%,” he says. "However if it grows from 40% to 50% in those working from home this is not going too have good implications for the building industry. Perhaps we need a halfway point between the CBD office and the home? A new development, 101 Moray in South Melbourne, styles itself as a health and wellness business destination. One which incorporates seven levels of office and retail space with luxury business and lifestyle facilities throughout. These include air purification, spatial design, meditation spaces and even a sport arena. Central House, on the ground floor at 101 Moray, is pitched at creative businesses with memberships allowing access to virtual offices, open desks, dedicated desks and private offices. "Co-working is community based office space with a lot of flexibility." says Jonathan Deague, managing director of the Deague Group - a 161-year-old integrated property development company, which owns and operates 101 Moray. “People want to enter environments where they also have the opportunity of networking with other businesses and also to have more enjoyable office space." Deague says that this flexibility is really important during Covid with many businesses pivoting to new areas and therefore growing at different rates. He points out that committing to a long lease in a CBD office block might not make great sense right now as businesses expand and contract. "At Central House, we also think it’s important to have a space where people can come together in a socialising hub. We have basketball courts, gyms and a mini sports arena, so there’s a focus on health and wellness. All this helps in attracting talent." Professor Hogan sees some merits in this new approach. "If we’re going to have a whole new way of thinking about the office to include recreational and health related facilities, this could be a positive for the building industry," he says. "This would mean there would be a lot of construction going on as offices are reconfigured. " After all, in the short time, the economics are being put to one side and that might take a year or two," he adds. "We just have to get through the pandemic."ABOUT THE WRITER Ros Reines is a Sydney journalist and the author of four books. She is currently penning her fifth - a memoir of a life in the me
    Read more »
  13. Renting Or Buying? The Big Housing Question
    Renting Or Buying? The Big Housing Question
    Does it make better economic sense to buy or rent a property now? According to Curtin University’s property guru, senior property lecturer Dr J-Han Ho, it’s an issue which requires careful research and consideration. "Housing is the goto investment for many people," he says."But unfortunately that well known saying 'as safe as houses' is not exactly correct. "Houses don’t always increase in value. Some property in this current economic period has gone down in value. So, many people would be in negative equity right now because they put all their assets into their home. But it could be just a case of the wrong time and in the wrong location." While Dr Ho acknowledges that interest rates have rarely been lower since the Reserve Bank Of Australia pruned the official cash rate to 0.1% with the promise that they will not rise greatly for at least the next three to five years, he believes there’s many other factors to consider. "There’s still a lot of uncertainty around employment and the economy particularly in New South Wales, Victoria and now possibly South Australia with a recent Covid outbreak there," he explains. "And at the same time the cost of housing is just way more expensive especially in NSW and Victoria, so the risk of defaulting is higher." Meanwhile, according to a 2019 study by EY (formerly Ernest & Young) those who rent properties may be better off than buyers. This is especially pertinent at the moment with rents falling in Sydney and Melbourne through less demand, especially from international students and also those who have found it safest to return to their family homes amid Covid. In a detailed analysis on renting versus buying, EY reached a conclusion that, over a 10-year period, the renter comes out better off with more disposable income available. And for the young, who wish to benefit from government initiatives including the First Home Buyers Grants, there’s plenty of risks in buying a property at this time, according to Dr Ho. "Whenever we have job losses, the younger people with less experience and training are the ones in the firing line. Instead it’s the Goldilocks zones - those between 30 and 40 with at least 10 years job experience and training, who have a better chance of staying employed," he says. Dr Ho further argues that millennials often go into the housing market blindly without thinking about their future mobility. "They may consider moving interstate or overseas, he explains. "And their needs might also be very different as they mature, so they’re no longer interested in the ultimate bachelor pad but somewhere to bring up a family close to child care, shops, transport and schools." And while lenders are currently more flexible when it comes to deposits, which helps to attract new borrowers, Dr Ho is also not convinced that this is a good thing. "In their golden era, the banks preferred a deposit of 20%. This was not just about creating a good buffer against defaults but it indicated that the person applying for that loan had the financial control to manage their funds and save for that deposit. By these implications, they would also be good at paying off their mortgage," he says. On the other hand, those hoping to take advantage of low interest rates with an investment property are also advised to spend time on research, according to Dr Ho. "There’s a big difference in housing investments and other investments." he explains. "If you are clear about investing in the share market versus investing in houses, I would say invest in the share market because it’s what you understand Housing is the investment that most people will go into without doing as much homework. For example, before someone puts in $10,000 to buy BHP shares, they would put in 50 hours of research in understanding how to invest money in shares," he says. "But those same people might just spend a few hours looking for houses which are a much greater investment. It just doesn’t make any sense." Dr Ho finally cautions that there’s no easy prescription to renting or buying in this climate with so many different factors involved. "The best advice," he says, "is just not to rush into anything." ABOUT THE WRITER Ros Reines is a Sydney journalist and the author of four books. She is currently penning her fifth - a memoir of a life in the me
    Read more »
Latest news
  • Renting Or Buying? The Big Housing Question
    Aussies Choose Homemade Over Chinese Products
    Throw an Australian lobster on the barbie this year. Well, perhaps not quite. Our local lobsters should be treated with the reverence that their heavenly, sweet flesh deserves. But there’s certainly more crayfish  available this year and at a good price, following restrictions placed on Australian imports by China. It’s just one of a raft of limitations on our imports that’s been brought about by escalating trade tensions between the two countries, which began with Australia’s insistence on an enquiry into the origins of Covid 19. China is our largest trading partner with two-way trade reaching a record $252 billion in 2019 and accounting for 27.4% of Australia’s trade with the world, according to figures compiled by Australian wealth management company, BT. This is far higher than that of Australia’s next largest trading partner, Japan, where two-way trade was $88.5 billion in 2019. The significant trade partnership covers many industries. According to the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, China is Australia’s primary export market. It’s also a major source of direct foreign investment and our largest agricultural goods market. Some of the restrictions include an 80% tariff on Australian barley imports, which has lead to a ban on Australia’s biggest grain exporter and the suspension of beef imports from five major meat-processing plants. It’s been crippling for our farmers and has  ricocheted all the way onto the Australian stock market with some share prices falling. Our wine exports also took a massive hit in November after China imposed tariffs of up to 212 percent on Aussie wines. This is while a lengthy investigation takes place into the supposed dumping of Australian wine in the region. China is Australia’s biggest wine export market, receiving about 37% of Australian wine exports, worth more than $800 million. This move on Aussie wine has had immediate effects around the world with political leaders from the US, UK, European Union, Japan, Germany, Italy and New Zealand, encouraging everyone to drink Australian wine is response to what is seen to be an unfair move by China. Meanwhile China officially banned Australian coal imports on Tuesday, throwing the $14 billion export industry into turmoil and leaving vessels stranded off the Chinese coastline, keen to offload thermal coal to their Chinese buyers. The message is clear this is the time for all of us to get behind Australian-made goods to support and strengthen our local manufacturers, while lessening the effects of the trade wars. It comes down to mindful shopping and always looking for the distinctive Australian-made label. It’s about choosing to shop online on  the Buy Aussie Now site where everything is locally manufactured with new brands joining daily. Buy Aussie Now is a showcase of Australian quality and originality that includes wine, fashion, homewares, toys, jewels and artisan foods. Many are award winning.  The effects of choosing to shop online this way are immediate as households spending an estimated $50 a week buying Australian-made goods would deliver a $30 billion boost to fuel the nation’s pandemic recovery and boost thousands of jobs. Also boosting the nation’s Covid recovery in a different way is making plans to entertain outdoors at  barbecues and picnics. You can’t beat the fresh air  or the simple goodness of a chargrilled Aussie steak, lamb or fresh seafood. This brings us back to those lobsters. According to the latest trade figures,  the Australian rock lobster exports are valued at around $752 million a year with  reports  from 2018 -19 showing that 94% of exports went to China. But earlier this year, China delayed imports of Australian live lobsters, which left this valuable export at serious risk of spoiling at Chinese airports waiting to be inspected. So, we should treat ourselves to a festive Aussie lobster or two and find just the right foods and wine to accompany them on the Buy Aussie Now website. This means we’ll be doing the right thing twice over.
  • Renting Or Buying? The Big Housing Question
    Are Co-Working Spaces And Shared Offices The Future?
    Is remote working from home the way of the future? According to some statistics, around 85% of us would prefer never to return to the office even after the pandemic. However there’s an increasing number of negatives to working from home that are being aired on social media platforms and in comment pieces. Chief among them are feelings of isolation. Taking a shared coffee break on Zoom, while a novel experience, is nowhere near as satisfying as exchanging `war stories’ in person. The other gripes include never really leaving work but not being paid for all those extra hours. Plus the stress of trying to get it all done in a family environment. At the same time, many are reluctant to return to the CBD with its skyscrapers, cramped elevators and the discomfort of a long morning and evening commute, especially with Covid still seeding in the community. It all seems counter-intuitive to the way we wish to live now. Professor Warren Hogan, former ANZ Chief Economist and a global authority on banking and financial markets, who is the UTSSydney Business School’s inaugural Executive-in-Residence believes that in the future, many will divide their work week between the office and home. "There are increasingly firms who are permanently going to allow staff to spend a percentage of time working from home. However the reality is that we have to get through the end of the pandemic before it’s going to be clear to what extent this will be," he says. "I think the drop in demand for office space from the shift around working from home is going to be somewhere from one day a week to two and a half days a week. And what that translates into is for the existing office demand to fall between 20 to 50%,” he says. "However if it grows from 40% to 50% in those working from home this is not going too have good implications for the building industry. Perhaps we need a halfway point between the CBD office and the home? A new development, 101 Moray in South Melbourne, styles itself as a health and wellness business destination. One which incorporates seven levels of office and retail space with luxury business and lifestyle facilities throughout. These include air purification, spatial design, meditation spaces and even a sport arena. Central House, on the ground floor at 101 Moray, is pitched at creative businesses with memberships allowing access to virtual offices, open desks, dedicated desks and private offices. "Co-working is community based office space with a lot of flexibility." says Jonathan Deague, managing director of the Deague Group - a 161-year-old integrated property development company, which owns and operates 101 Moray. “People want to enter environments where they also have the opportunity of networking with other businesses and also to have more enjoyable office space." Deague says that this flexibility is really important during Covid with many businesses pivoting to new areas and therefore growing at different rates. He points out that committing to a long lease in a CBD office block might not make great sense right now as businesses expand and contract. "At Central House, we also think it’s important to have a space where people can come together in a socialising hub. We have basketball courts, gyms and a mini sports arena, so there’s a focus on health and wellness. All this helps in attracting talent." Professor Hogan sees some merits in this new approach. "If we’re going to have a whole new way of thinking about the office to include recreational and health related facilities, this could be a positive for the building industry," he says. "This would mean there would be a lot of construction going on as offices are reconfigured. " After all, in the short time, the economics are being put to one side and that might take a year or two," he adds. "We just have to get through the pandemic."ABOUT THE WRITER Ros Reines is a Sydney journalist and the author of four books. She is currently penning her fifth - a memoir of a life in the me