Sep 29

Cairns Aquarium II Driving to nowhere II Dutton’s $$ chest II Slashing human rights II Gaza – a way out II eurozone & the amazing Ms Merkel II Tweets abound, Airbnb special and Rover Thomas

Welcome to R1M September blog, featuring the new Cairns Aquarium, driving to nowhere with driverless cars, Dutton’s $$ chest II A way out for Gaza, eurozone fightback and the amazing Ms Merkel  II Tweets abound & Airbnb special and Rover Thomas.

CONGRATULATIONS are due to young local entrepreneurs, Daniel Leipnik and Andrew Preston, who this week achieved their vision with the opening of the Cairns Aquarium.

Featured this week in the Australian Financial Review, reporter Larry Schlesinger said, “A reviving local tourism market has boosted the value of the newly opened Cairns Aquarium to around $100 million deliver[ing] a better-than-expected return to the dozen high net worth investors who funded its construction.”

Pictured sharing a special milestone, Leipnik and Preston open the valves to begin filling the 1.8million litre Oceanarium. Showcasing more than 15,000 aquatic animals, fish, plants, and other organisms housed within 71 live exhibits, it opened last week, after construction commenced in November 2015.

The three-level, 7800 square metre aquarium was developed by Leipnik and Preston at a cost of $54 million. It took them six years to bring the ambitious project to fruition, with its opening marking the first new aquarium developed in Australia since the Melbourne Aquarium opened 18 years ago.  I first covered the plans for the Aquarium in my blog October 2016.  

Key to its development was securing construction finance through a $32 million fixed-term debt facility from specialist lender Gieldan Capital, a joint venture between prominent investment banker Mark Carnegie’s private equity firm, M H Carnegie & Co and fixed income dealer FIIG Securities.” 

Cairns is a dynamic tourism focussed city. This year Dubai-based Syrian billionaire Ghassan Aboud began developing a third hotel in Cairns having bought a motel and office building on the Cairns Esplanade. Mr Leipnik told local media he expected around 700,000 people to visit the aquarium every year.

Again a link to a previous blog – October 2012 on a clean energy future.  Tom Volling reporting in the Cains Post last week confirmed Powerlink are about to start construction of a 275kV substation to connect the 180 

megawatt Mt Emerald Wind Farm to a transmission network.  Fifty three turbines will be constructed initially, and the $350 million dollar project is expected to generate 150 jobs.  The farm will supply about one third of the Far North’s power needs. Expect to see giant blades on the local roads from the port to Walkamin. Pictured is the base of one of the turbines in construction.

Driverless cars ? Business Insider Intelligence predicts fully autonomous driverless cars on the road by 2019, but having viewed Catalyst last night,  I think it might take a while longer and who wants them anyway?  The pluses for businesses are no employees,  they’re a disrupter.  We won’t need taxi drivers, or uber drivers,  or pizza delivery boys or food delivery people period.  If we want to tour London and don’t know the streets,  hey well,  just hire a driverless car on your mobile and it will turn up at will anywhere just like an Uber car does now, except no driver.  Its robot will talk you through your trip,  find you a toilet,  take you past the Tower of London,  and even look for a hotel room in your budget range. 

Driverless cars require a massive uptake of data to make them safe and knowledgeable and companies are hoping their artificial intelligence insemination will help to avoid death by collision, miscalculation and or code deficit.  Now if you want to talk about electric cars,  that’s a different story.  Bring them on, lessen carbon emissions, batteries will propel them upwards, sideways and hopefully forwards. (Pictured: Ford’s driverless test car).

Companies involved in cartech revolution – companies manufacturing electric cars are Tesla, Panasonic, Ford and General Motors, but it’s the Renault-Nissan alliance which has moved nearly 37,000 electric cars this year, more than Tesla.  Source: Bertal Schmidt, Forbes 2017. 

Companies involved in manufacturing driverless cars are more diverse and with many more partnerships due to the requirements of high-end technology in both software and sensor technology. Google’s Waymo is developing just that. Audi is also in the race with Nvidia (graphic card maker) aiming for Level 4 autonomy by 2020 but far ahead of the pack is a Boston start-up, nuTonoy, a robot taxi now in service in Singapore.  You can take a free trip in nuTonoy (see pic) or try it as a self driving car. 

And in today’s news (28 September 2017) featured in the Cairns Post is Dubai’s ‘Hover taxi” developed by a German drone company.  Drone firm Volocopter describes its flying taxi as resembling a small two seater helicopter with 18 propellers above the cabin.  The Hover taxi has a maximum 30 minutes flying time, back up batteries and a couple of parachutes.  Airbus, Kitty Hawk (backed by Google) and Uber are all working on flying taxis. They’re a little behind Brazil who have had chopper taxis since 1999.  In fact Sao Paulo has the world’s largest helicopter fleet (420) and 820 pilots. And a chopper obviously has more power than a drone, should you need to leave that meeting in a hurry!

Business Insider, with Navigant Research today published a leadership grid for self driving cards.  Navigant ranked the 18 companies out of 100 points on those most likely to get their self driving cars on the road first. 

The German auto supplier ZF is high on the list having commercialised Nvidia’s PX2 processing platform ProAi,  PSA (Peugeot and Citroen) are using ZF also and had four of its self driving cars drive 360 miles in 2015.  This was early.  Volvo is test driving its cars with families in Sweden.  Waymo (Google’s self driving car) was launched in 2009, and Waymo has driven over 2 million miles autonomously in the US.  Partnered with Fiat Chrysler,  Waymo also had a partnership with Lyft, Avis and Intel.  BMA has advanced driving assistance right now in its luxury models and has teamed up with Intel and Mobileye.  Volkswagon and Audi are in the mix as is Daimler forecasting 2020. The Renault Nissen Alliance has proPILOT, a self drive feature that lets production cars drive autonomously on highways in Japan.  General Motors is said to be ready for mass production, its self drive cars will all be electric.   But the leader is Ford, it has an automous test fleet of 100 cars.  In February Ford invested a further $1 billion in Argo AI, a secretive artificial intelligence start up in Pittsburg…  that says to me that things still aren’t quite right. Image opp. shows how a driverless car using LIDAR perceives its surroundings.

But driverless cars are coming… and how much will they be? For starters, there is LIDAR, the highly sensitive laser sensor that is the core of almost all autonomous vehicles that’s about $85,000 currently. Ouch! (Source: Business Insider, Denielle Muoio Sept 28, 2017)

Dutton’s money chest – the Hon Peter Dutton, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection has  been on a spending spree to get help restructuring his ‘super’ department.  Over the past two years $26 million has been paid to Boston Consulting to provide both strategic and advisory services.  Most recently as reported in The Australian (Sept 6) one of BCG’s contracts to restructure Dutton’s department was upgraded from $370,000 to $2.8 million.  Nauru still hangs in the balance while Manus is closing.  The operation of both refugee camps has cost the tax payer $2.57 billion.  $28.8 million to sort out a Department that the Minister should be capable of restructuring on his own merit,  wouldn’t you think so? AND I thought we had a budget deficit !

Headlines of Impact

Slashing Human rights – The Philippines President Duterte has slashed the budget of the Human Rights Commission from $A16.5 million to $A25.00.  Nothing less than an insult. Also reported in the Guardian Weekly on the 22 September, the entire police force of 1200, has been sacked in the city of Caloocan.

Hamas and Fatah to shake hands – a power sharing unity government in Gaza and on the West Bank

Any conciliatory action on relieving the living conditions of Palestinians is welcome.  Reporting on the 17 September (SBS News & AFP) Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad said a bilateral meeting with Hamas would be organised to begin working out a way forward.

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli blockade for around a decade, while its border with Egypt has also remained largely closed in recent years.The statement comes after Hamas leaders held talks with Egyptian officials last week. Gaza is facing a mounting humanitarian crisis. Pictured above, a Hamas security guard stands near the border between Egypt and Gaza. Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group has agreed to dissolve its Gaza administration and hold general elections to end its long feud with Egypt’s Fatah movement. (Source: EPA/Hassan Ali)

Gaza is facing deteriorating humanitarian conditions, including a severe electricity crisis and a lack of clean water. The coastal enclave of some two million people also has one of the world’s highest unemployment rates. 

Eurozone strikes back … Growth in the 19 country eurozone has quietly outshone the US over the past two years.  Annualised growth shows the single currency bloc growing at 2.3% and production is up 3.2% on last year, said Jennifer Rankin reporting for The Guardian Weekly.  France is still behind the ball park, however Germany’s economy remains solid, Spain has bounced back not so, Greece,  but Italy’s economy is doing better despite issues over heavily indebted banks.  

Angela Merkel is back for another four years, having served 12 years as Germany’s Chancellor. Highly visible during the eurozone crisis, Merkel has stayed largely at home in 2017 steering her party solidly and strongly towards victory. She repeatedly changed position when the public mood diverged from her conservative principles.

A physicist in another life, Merkel stuck with her humanitarian discourse having welcomed over a million refugees. “We will handle it” she insisted. Germany has since, tightened eligibility for asylum, enacted tougher security and struck a deal with Turkey to close migrant routes through the Balkans.  Pictured above -German Chancellor Angela Merkel stands in front of her campaign tour bus in Berlin September 16, 2013 (Source : REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch). 

“There is no fear that the refugees will take jobs, everyone already has work” says Sebastian Sunhammer whose Bavarian factory makes trucks.  (Sources: Sydney Morning Herald, Nick Miller 23-24 September, 2017 p29, The Australian, Anton Troianovski, Berlin Sept 22, 2017 p.12 & Weekend Australian, Jacquelin Magnay Sept 23-24 p.12) 

Twitter to double tweet size – 280 letters,  what more can I say?

Airbnb special – Loftium (Seattle) will provide prospective home buyers with up to A$64,000 for a down payment on a house as long as they are willing to continuously list an extra bedroom on Airbnb for one to three years and share most of the income with Loftium over that time.  This service is “for people who don’t have the parents to help or the high income to save while paying rent,” said Ms Zhang, one of the founders.  Ms Zhang said she had had about 200 Airbnb guests in her townhouse.  (Source: Tara Siegel Bernard, The New York Times/ Australian Financial Review 28 September, 2017).

Digital payments, the dark side – digital bank payments have resulted in greater surveillance and a massive increase in financial cybercrime, according to Brett Scott writing in The Guardian Weekly (22 Sept 2017).  Sweden leads the way whereby every transaction is passed via banks, card companies, phone providers and payment apps.  Its citizens every economic interaction is logged in a database.  Such States have the potential to institute economic censorship.  Corporations too are anxious to acquire this data.  But I prefer the idea of cash remaining available,  I abhor the possibility of being forced to accept a pension card which only allows me 20% of my aged pension in cash.  I refuse to be dictated to in terms of what I eat,  where I buy my food and how much I spend on my car, travelling and life in general.  It’s no-one’s business except mine. So resist digital payments and hang onto your cash. PS: Couldn’t have attended the Elton John concert last night without cash, venue rules stated no food, no bottled water or alcohol unless paying cash.  Now there you have it.

Last but not least ART 

Rover Thomas, born in 1926 in the Great Sandy Desert, Rover Thomas is a renowned Aboriginal artist from the Kimberley region.  Click on the link above, to discover more of his incredible art. Rover Thomas died in 1998 but his paintings are now highly valued by collectors. Featured in The Saturday Paper this week, Partrick Hartigan a Sydney based artist, talks about the man and his work. His paintings currently vary in price from A$6000 to over A$400,000. (Pictured the magnificent Bullock Hide Story 1995.)

Quote of the month : You must trust and believe in people or life becomes impossible – Anton Chekhov

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1 comment

    • Deb on October 7, 2017 at 3:01 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks Eve for the informative blog………good work girl! Deb 6 Oct 2017

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