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2. WE hope you find BusinessTimes interesting and enjoyable reading. It is written for and about business people in the Greater Dandenong region. The magazine is being mailed to every business with an Australia Post address in Greater Dandenong. It will be a voice for business – an opportunity for business people to share views, concerns and successes. We welcome feedback and debate about the issues facing people doing business in the region. This first issue features profiles on two successful business people in completely different spheres. The first, Rob Hodge, is expanding the Dandenonggrown firm of Brakes Plus. And, making a new home a little to the south, Carolyn Kruger talks about starting and expanding her business Melbourne IT Solutions, now based at new headquarters in Carrum Downs. Outside a busy work schedule, Carolyn has a passion for cars, well, a passion for Nissan Skylines – she owns five, including the one

BusinessTimes Dandenong / ISSUE 1 / AUGUST 2010

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Publisher / Director Editorial Director Sales Director Sales Managing Director Material production / Prepress

Email: General: Editorial: Advertising: Artwork: intErnEt: BusinessTimes (Dandenong) is published 11 times a year by BusinessTimes Pty Ltd and printed by Galaxy Print & Design, 76 Reid Parade, Hastings, Victoria 3915. Postal: PO Box 428, Hastings, Victoria 3915 Tel. 035979 7744 Fax. 035979 7944

that raced at Bathhurst in 1986. Hamish Petrie discusses leadership: what it means and how it is assessed – and accessed. He takes the adage “tomorrow’s power comes to those who solve today’s problems” and tests its relevance in business today. Ewen Kennedy takes the Jaguar XF R series for a spin. It snarls, he says.

Are you in BusinessTimes? For advertising, contact Jack Hoeksema on 0401 597 882 or Make sure every business knows your business. DISCLAIMER: Information in BusinessTimes contains general advice only. No article or column has been prepared taking into account any individual reader’s financial situation, investment objectives or particular needs. Readers should personally consult professionals for advice on any matter, including investment, health and the law. While all care is taken, BusinessTimes accepts no responsibility for errors or omissions in the published material. Views expressed are not necessarily those of BusinessTimes Pty Ltd.

In the import/export business? We know a thing or two about foreign exchange. Yes, we’re bankers. But we also happen to know the import/export industry back to front. In fact, our expertise and understanding of this important industry is a driving force behind the growth and success of many import/export businesses. To find out how we can help your business, talk to Onsi Toruan, Relationship Executive on 03 9794 1874.


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contents / AUGUST 2010 Revitalising: Lonsdale St, Dandenong, is getting a facelift as part of central Dandenong’s $290 million makeover.


10 14


That IT word: Carolyn Kruger’s Melbourne IT Solutions has expanded into larger headquarters at Carrum Downs. Cover : Rob Hodge overseas the expansion of Dandenong-based car repair franchise, Brakes Plus.

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Tender thresholds

telco complaints drop

Greater Dandenong Council invites tenders through public notice for contracts for the purchase of goods or services valued at $150,000 or higher and for works (building and civil) valued at $200,000 or higher. the threshold amounts for services and works are contained in the council’s procurement policy and are in line with the Local Government act (1989). Council can use its internal delegated procurement methods and procedures for purchases of goods and services up to a contract value of $150,000 and building or civil works up to a contract value of $200,000.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS Industry Ombudsman Simon Cohen has reported a drop in the number of complaints to his office. In the first three months of 2010, the TIO received 52,730 complaints from consumers and small businesses around Australia. This is compared with 54,287 in the December 2009 quarter, and 61,248 in the September 2009 quarter “During the TIO connect.resolve campaign we worked closely with telecommunications providers to help them improve their customer service and complaint handling. It is therefore pleasing to see this trend,” said Mr Cohen. “However, complaints remain at very high levels and I welcome the renewed focus and commitment across the telecommunications industry on better customer service and complaint handling”.

Mr Cohen has encouraged telecommunications customers to speak up when things go wrong with their services. “My message is that if you have a complaint about your telecommunications or internet service provider, you should first try to resolve it with your provider. If that doesn’t work, then the TIO may be able to help.”

Service letters Greater Dandenong Council has sent letters of recognition to staff members who have served 10, 20 and 30 years. thirty-year veterans are b Christy, engineering Services; t Marcuccio, Community Services; and t rotstayn, Community Services those who have served 20 years are M roussety, Development Services; e Ginger, Development Services; J Hansen, Development Services; and P Mathrick, Community Services receiving letters for 10 years service are J Mills, Development Services: b Powell, Community Services; G Walmaggia, Community Services; and a Haines, Community Services; r. Perera, Community Services; and a Pan, Community Services.

NBN in Melbourne MeLbourne is the home of the national operations and test Facility for nbn Co Limited, the company established to deliver the national broadband network. nbn Co’s Docklands centre will monitor and manage the nbn network and facilities, order service connections and fault repairs, and allow telecommunications companies using the network to test their services before rollout. 6 | BusinessTimes Dandenong | August 2010

ACT govt adopts social tendering A CONFERENCE on social tendering in Canberra in June had an immediate effect when the ACT Government issued guidelines to all departments instructing them to favour social enterprises in purchasing decisions, wherever possible. Social procurement (or social tendering) means considering the additional social benefits from using government purchasing to support social enterprises and businesses that offer employment to disadvantaged people. In short, greater bang for the public buck can be achieved by factoring in the social outcomes that can be achieved through smarter procurement – less dependency on welfare, breaking the poverty cycle, social inclusion and economic participation. By awarding contracts to social enterprises, public expenditure can still obtain a quality product or service while providing a greater return-on-investment by helping provide sustainable employment and training opportunities for disadvantaged people. The Public Money for Public Benefit conference was organised by the ACT Social Enterprise Hub, an initiative of Social Ventures Australia. Social Ventures Australia worker Jane Speechley said “the results were significant and quickly apparent”. “The following day Chief Minister Jon Stanhope announced that the ACT Government would develop and issue guidelines to all

departments to change tender processes and favour social procurement.” Mr Stanhope said the government was taking the extra step of making it easier for social enterprise organisations to win government contracts and provide their staff with employment security ACT Greens issued a media release arguing that the government should go even further and commit to a set percentage of contracts being awarded to social enterprises; and that Housing ACT should consider a social enterprise cleaning and maintenance venture, along the same lines as the successful project established between NSW Housing, Spotless and Fair Repairs which was presented as a case study at the event by Marc Manion. Manion outlined how NSW public housing tenants are employed as sub-contractors to maintain public housing properties. Event host Kevin Robbie said that when used correctly, social tendering could deliver quality procurement outcomes while also providing much-needed opportunities for disadvantaged Australians. Mr Robbie’s organisation, Social Ventures Australia, provides funding and strategic support to non-profit partners, as well as offering consulting services to the social sector more broadly, including philanthropists who are endeavouring to be more strategic in their approach to giving.

The problem with grievances AUSTRALIAN business, mainly NGOs and smaller operators, are often clueless when it comes to managing grievances in the workplace, allowing seemingly trivial complaints to fester and escalate into bigger problems. According to employment law and mediation experts, The Resolution Centre, these problems can range from low morale and productivity to lawsuits and long-term damage to the company’s reputation. “We often spend more time at work with our colleagues than our own family and friends, and the mix of personality types and stress can make crossed wires and conflict inevitable,” says CEO of The Resolution Centre, Katherine Graham. “It’s how and when you handle those conflicts that are the difference between a healthy workplace and one that eventually breeds contempt.” Want to irritate your work colleagues and get the boss off-side? Research and conflict management training conducted by The Resolution Centre has found the most common “annoyances” among workers are colleagues who: • Allow someone else take the blame for their shortcomings • Take information and manipulate it so it reflects poorly on someone they don’t like in the office • Exclude staff members they don’t like from group lunches and social events • Exclude others from essential communications

on projects in which they are involved. • Groom another colleague and then say disparaging things about them to others behind their back When dealing with complaints, Graham advises organisations to follow the principles of procedural fairness: confidentiality, timeliness, the right to be heard and the right to respond. A mistake often made by business, adds Graham, is not maintaining and communicating the company’s complaints and grievance policies. Organisations will do a clean sweep and train staff after a serious incident or investigation, but then fail to conduct routine training, missing new employees. They also often fail to reiterate to staff what is and isn’t acceptable in the workplace. “Larger organisations are more attuned to their responsibilities and they also have in-house legal support guiding them, but it’s quite surprising how many businesses, such as NGOs and smaller operators, still don’t have a clue,” Graham says. “And in turn, these organisations seem quite surprised when we inform them about their responsibilities and liabilities in relation to staff grievances.” Resolution Centre CEO, Katherine Graham has more than 15 years’ experience in HR and recruitment. The Resolution Centre is an Australian owned and operated human resources consultancy specialising in workplace mediation, conflict investigation, and dispute management and resolution.

Four million more households in 25 years: ABS

THE number of households in Australia is projected to increase by up to four million over the next 25 years, according to projections by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). This is an increase from 7.8 million households in 2006 to up to 11.8 million in 2031. Family households are projected to show the largest increase and to remain the most common household type in Australia. The

number of family households is projected to increase by as many as 2.4 million households, from 5.6 million in 2006 to up to eight million in 2031. The number of Australians living alone is projected to have the most rapid increase of all household types, increasing by up to 91 per cent over the next 25 years to 3.6 million by 2031. The rapid increase of people living alone is mainly related to the ageing of the population. ABS said the projections were based on three alternative assumptions about changes in people’s future living arrangements which are applied to a projected population. Australia’s population is assumed to reach 28.8 million people by 2031

Security cost Greater Dandenong Council has awarded a 12-month $525,072 contract for electronic alarm monitoring and mobile security services to burson Security Services Pty Ltd. the contract price includes GSt of $47,734. the city requires security services at 77 council facilities, 56 of which have alarm systems which require monitoring on a continuous basis.

Buying solar power auStraLia’S peak clean energy body has produced a guide to help householders make an informed choice when buying solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Clean energy Council Policy Director russell Marsh said the guide will help consumers find the right system to suit their needs. “the guide is a general introduction to solar PV systems. it includes a list of sensible questions to ask when inquiring about solar power to ensure the installer and type of panel you choose is up to scratch,” Mr Marsh said. the Clean energy Council runs an accreditation program for solar PV designers and installers to ensure a high standard of installation quality. to qualify for federal government subsidies, solar PV systems must be signed off by an accredited professional who has completed training in the design and installation of solar power systems. the new consumer guide to buying solar panels and a list of accredited installers can be found on the Clean energy Council website at August 2010 | BusinessTimes Dandenong | 7


energy costs business $75 b. auStraLian businesses spent $75.4 billion on energy during 2008-09, according to figures released 30 July by the australian bureau of Statistics (abS). Fifty-five per cent of these businesses took measures to reduce their energy consumption, such as switching off equipment or activities related to reducing transport use. twenty-one per cent of companies claimed that cost was the major barrier to improving their energy efficiency. During 2008-09, energy expenditure by australian business was dominated by electricity and non-renewable fuels. eighteen billion dollars was spent on diesel, $13b on electricity, $6b on natural gas. a total of $29b was spent on other non-renewable fuels, largely crude oil used by the petroleum industry. in the same period, businesses spent $60m directly on renewable fuels (liquid biofuel, biogas, bagasse and wood/wood waste), and a further $95m on GreenPower electricity (sourced from accredited hydroelectricity, wind power etc). this was less than one per cent of total expenditure on electricity by businesses. Seven per cent of electricity generated (18,000 GWh) was sourced from renewables, with hydroelectricity contributing about two-thirds of this amount. the use of non-renewable fuels, coal, and coal by-products generated over 70 per cent of electricity, followed by natural gas at 19 per cent.

Lend Lease seeks nod to subdivide LEND Lease Primelife is likely to get Greater Dandenong Council planning approval to subdivide its Lexington Gardens retirement village land in Westall Rd. A successful application would allow Lend Lease to snip around the retirement village edges, creating an opportunity to on-sell two of the subdivided blocks for development, pending further planning approval. The company plans to subdivide the seven hectare property, wedged between Villa Rd and Windsor Av, into three lots and create a new access from Westall Rd. The subdivision would create one large lot containing the retirement village and aged care centre and two lots –1803 sq m along the Westall Rd frontage and 8180 sq m at the Westall Rd and Windsor Av corner. The retirement village has 294 independent

• The ABS also released data on water and other environmental management activities of australian businesses. twenty-two per cent of all australian businesses undertook some type of water management practice, with 60 per cent of large businesses (employing 200 or more persons) reporting one or more activities to manage their water use. 8 | BusinessTimes Dandenong | August 2010

living units and 120 hostel type units in buildings of up to three storeys. Residents facilities include convenience shops, a restaurant, medical and beauty services and recreational facilities like a pool and tennis court. In November 2008 Lend Lease won planning permission to build five additional buildings up to five storeys high and containing 213 independent living units on the subject land. However, the permit has not been acted upon. Three Lexington Gardens’ residents objected on the grounds of reduced amenity due to the loss of existing recreational land and adverse impacts of more development. However, council’s assessment is that the proposal is appropriate to the site and the subdivision “will provide opportunities for currently under-utilised land to be on-sold opening up possible development opportunities…”


DANDENONG Business Network International (BNI) members heard from Carrot Clothing boss Sean Webb and were introduced to the BusinessTimes team Jack Hoeksema and Margaret Harrison at the July 8 meeting at Prince Hotel. 1. Peter Panayi, of Floor Selections, Peter Harrison, photographer, of Inner Elements, and Tushar Raniga, state sales manager, of Constellation Hotels. 2. Ken Pilkington, managing director of Claredale Motors, Caroline Kasputtis, clinical hypnotherapist, Born Success Hypnotherapy, Sjaak Kusters, of Joy Voice On Hold Messages, of Narre Warren.


Medical all clear

Young achiever

a tWo-storey medical centre will be built where four houses stand at the corner of Stud rd and anne St, Dandenong. the City of Greater Dandenong conditionally approved the redevelopment at its July 12 meeting. the centre will house GPs, dentists, pathologists, podiatrists and physiotherapists. a maximum of 10 practitioners would be on the site at any one time, according to the application from Khak Pty. Ltd. architects. Council also approved removal of a covenant allowing the building setback from Stud rd to be reduced from 12.2 metres to 5.7 metres. there will be on site parking for 52 cars. the centre will open at 8am and close late (9pm) on two nights a week. three objectors cited removal of trees, increased traffic, increased crime to residential properties and no details about how abutting properties will be protected from noise and floodlighting. Council placed 40 conditions on the development approval.

robert Donaldson (left) made his mark among some stellar business performers at the Greater Dandenong Chamber of Commerce 2010 Premier regional business awards’ business breakfast on July 28. robert received the chamber’s Young enterprise achievement award. the 21-year-old from Pakenham is completing a mechanical engineering apprenticeship with boral. next March the chamber will announce the Platinum award – the best of the best businesses which have received awards over the past 20 years. the winners from 1997 to 2000 were at the July breakfast and included brakes Plus (our cover story this month), HM Gem engines, Jayco, active Display Group and K and H Surface technologies. the chamber’s Platinum celebration will be held at Crown Casino, Melbourne, in March 2010.

Good managers see opportunities: Bartels MANAGERS push, leaders pull: managers command, leaders inspire. This was one of the messages from former Coles Myer Ltd and Fosters Brewing Co CEO Peter Peter Bartels Bartels to the Dandenong Premier Regional Business Awards’ Breakfast on July 28. Bartels, chairman of Starpharma Holdings Ltd, used the theme of leadership for his address. He said good managers are people who see opportunities, groom successors, have a positive self image, have a sense of urgency and take risks.

Carley Advisory commenced on 15th May this year when after 21 years with what was the final machination of Marriott & Jennings, now Flinders Partners Group, I began life as principal of my own accounting practice. I have been joined by several former employees of Flinders Partners Group and we are continuing to work in the areas of Business Management and Consulting, Corporate work including all ASIC related matters and all aspects of Taxation including preparation and lodgement of returns.

Bartels, a former world sprint cycling champion and Commonwealth Games gold medallist, listed five principles for his business life: attention, conviction, interest, desire and closing the deal. Bartels placed great importance on speed reading as a means of keeping abreast of current affairs and business developments. He said he had gained valuable knowledge from his interest in reading biographies. Bartels advised emerging managers to be themselves, ask questions and listen. He said it was important for people in business to develop a reputation for getting

Meryl, Belinda and Debbie are all known to clients and for those of you who have been clients since I arrived on the Peninsula Meryl has been a constant over all those years. We are hoping to continue with our many loyal clients and grow the Practice with your help. We are currently sharing offices with PPR Recruitment, a recruitment consulting firm, located on the first floor at 405 Nepean Highway Frankston. If the address sounds familiar it is as we are adjacent to the offices of Flinders Partners Group.

the job done and knowing the market. Bartels said in dealing with staff, he was keen to establish what he expected from his employees and what employees expected from the business. This became the basis for a review every six months. Bartels offered the advice to work hard, but not long hours. His personal work habit is to start at 7am and never finish after 5pm. He said all his best work was accomplished in the first six hours of the day. His final message was to dream about your passions, stay healthy, and celebrate both success and failure. But, above all, be a winner. 1165

With clients throughout Australia and South-East Asia, we are able to advise on international issues along with domestic matters. Corporate Governance is also an area where we are happy to look at closely held corporate entities, not for profits, and unlisted public companies. We are only a call away on 03 9783 5899 or email

August 2010 | BusinessTimes Dandenong | 9


Speaking for more than an hour about success in business with Rob Hodge leads inevitably back to customer satisfaction. It’s a subject he returns to time and time again.



s general manager of a franchise business, Rob Hodge’s personal customers include the public, staff and outlet managers. The statistics of the spread of Brakes Plus are impressive: 15 stores in the chain, a 69 per cent increase in outlets over 12 years and a 115 per cent increase in turnover. But it is this last figure which Hodge sees as being the most important. You can open as many outlets as you like, but without turnover they do not add up to much. Hodge describes Brakes Plus as a family business owned by John Rippon. The first outlet started in Dandenong in 1990, from where Hodge now oversees the running of the various outlets, including three in Queensland.

10 | BusinessTimes Dandenong | August 2010

Most of the 15 Brakes Plus stores are franchises run by former employees – apprentices, mechanics and managers – from the Dandenong outlet. “It just evolved that way,” Hodge says. “It’s the calibre of the people who naturally came up through the system. They’re enthusiastic.” However, the overriding key to their individual success is not necessarily having a mechanical background. “They need first to be a businessman rather than a mechanic. It’s our job to see them through that side of it, time takes care of the other [mechanical] side. One of our former accountants has two stores.” Hodge gives “direction and help... It’s our obligation to provide support. We also collect royalties”. “We could open a new outlet every three months, but the difficult side is getting the right people. We’re very

reserved in who we choose.” Most sites for a Brakes Plus outlet are chosen by the company, although it keeps and open mind. “But in most cases we find a site, open a store and look for a franchisee when it is self sufficient. Most are company stores in the beginning,” Hodge says. “We get someone working here [Dandenong] first to see if they can run a shop.” While franchisees cannot give a store back they can sell, but only to a buyer approved by Brakes Plus. “We assess the incoming person and get them to work here for six weeks, gradually working up to basically running the show. “It’s about building our business, we don’t want it sold down.” Hodge says the company-operated stores “help keep pace with changing

trends in the market place”. Keeping customers satisfied and their return business is the priority. Hodge knows that a vehicle’s workings are a mystery to most owners. “A lot of customer satisfaction and faith is about perception. “Some people get the feeling that something isn’t right with their car, but they don’t know what’s wrong. They come here looking for help. “I stress to our people that it’s important to step customers through the process. We put the car on the hoist, investigate and then explain the mechanic’s report. “We don’t want them to feel awkward or intimidated. We explain why we want to do a particular repair. “Our key to success is being extra customer focussed. We’re not just here for the quick dollar.” Hodge estimates 75 per cent of Brakes Plus business comes from previous customers or from recommendations. “We ask every customer how they knew about us, so we know this is a fact and we’re very proud of that.” Customers drop off through natural attrition – usually moving away from an area – so marketing and advertising is used to bring in new customers. Another attraction is a [vehicle] “lifetime” guarantee offered on the fitting of “selected” brake pads. The branded pads are made specifically for Brakes Plus and there is no labour charge after the first fitting. Although seeming to cancel out any future profits, the offer fits neatly with the wider scope of the company’s services. While billed as Brake Plus, the company does all levels of mechanical repairs and five years ago underwent a major rebranding, adding ‘auto care’ to make sure this was well and truly brought home to potential customers. “We were never solely a brakes-only store and our staff were always qualified mechanics or apprentice mechanics,” Hodge says. “We do logbook servicing for new cars and only use genuine or higher grade parts. One of the biggest messages to get out there is that you don’t need to go back to the manufacturer for services.” Hodge worked his way to the top after coming to Brakes Plus as a 17-year-old labourer. “I started in the automotive workshop at Moorabbin over a Christmas break

“Our key to success is being extra customer focussed. We’re not just here for the quick dollar.”

– cleaning, picking up parts – and never left.” This background means there is virtually no situation that can arise that he has not seen before and he can spot staff with the “right calibre”. “I can recognise value in people. It’s all about the people.” Last month Hodge spoke to a Dandenong chamber of commerce breakfast about the success of Brakes Plus. As winner of the 1998 Premier Regional Business Award, Brakes Plus has been nominated in the search for the best business on the past two decades, to be announced next year. His talk at the breakfast covered the subject he discusses most frequently with his staff: customer service. “Everyone has their own personality and way of communicating, but we have rules and regulations to make sure service

levels are of a high standard,” Hodge explains to BusinessTimes. “It’s no good putting someone in a position where they are in over their head. If it’s not working out for someone I’ll say ‘If it’s not for you, move on’. That’s why you’ve got runners who are suited to marathons and others are sprinters.” Giving such advice is a way of making sure the business succeeds. “I see this approach as being the same for any business, irrespective of product. “I see this as part of our obligation. Essentially, we’re a management team. Hodge’s approach to franchisees is also tailored to their individual styles. “Some are quite autonomous and we just have a cup of coffee or a chat. Others seek more support and guidance. “But I go to all our shops every week, doing the rounds to see how things are going. They never know when I’m coming.” August 2010 | BusinessTimes Dandenong | 11


Loan guarantees, but not for pokies Greater Dandenong Council has adopted a loans guarantee policy for community groups funding their own improvements to assets on council land. Council’s guarantee will be for up to 50 per cent of the value of works. Loan guarantees will not be provided to support gaming facilities on council-owned land and community organisations will need to demonstrate multi-purpose access to the facility and operate on a not-for-profit basis. Proposed capital works need to satisfy an identified community need and be consistent with council’s plans Groups looking for loans will need to demonstrate their ability to meet repayments and have a stable administration and governance history. also, council will only consider projects that establish a fixed asset on council land. Council drafted the policy to help community groups finance facilities over and above what council could afford to supply. banks frequently look to councils to guarantee loans on assets that will pass into council ownership and therefore cannot act as a security for the lender.

Fair trade DanDenonG has become a ‘Fair trade city. Greater Dandenong Council has endorsed the principles of Fair trade and will buy Fair trade products where appropriate for council operations the Fair trade movement began in europe more than 20 years ago when consumers placed pressure on suppliers to deliver raw materials for their goods from ethical sources. Fair trade products include coffee, tea, chocolate, sports balls, cotton items such as clothing and hand-made fashion accessories, jewellery and homewares. Council will promote Fair trade in the media and its publications to encourage residents and businesses to learn more about Fair trade products and to support the program.

Blame a lot of rubbish for council rate hike CITY of Greater Dandenong Council will increase its 2010-11 rate revenue by 5.50 per cent but residential rates on average will rise by nearly 5.9 per cent because of this year’s property revaluation However, ratepayers face a 7.82 per cent hike in total costs with garbage collection charges rising, too. The council is warning ratepayers that the revaluation means increases will not be felt uniformly across all properties because values increased more in some areas. For example, values in Springvale North, Springvale, Noble Park and Dandenong outstripped the average increase. The annual garbage charge is going up $27 but $21.10 is directly related to the increase in the State government landfill levy, rocketing up from $9 a tonne to $30 a tonne. The state has flagged further increases in the levy to $53.20 a tonne by 2014/15. Total rates and charges on an average residential property will increase 7.82 per cent from $637.66 to $675.23. The impact of increases in rates and charges on the average residential property is $64.57 or $1.24 a week. Pressure to raise rates and charges have come from the property revaluation combined with the need to maintain and renew aging council assets and infrastructure plus the hike in the State government landfill levy. Other pressures included a $280,000 rise in the council’s WorkCover premium Many council assets built in the 60s and 70s and are now reaching the stage where they need to be renewed urgently, according to budget papers. The city’s average residential valuation increased more than 20 per cent from $285,000 to $342,000 between 2009-10 and 2010-11. And while council reduced the residential rate in the dollar it will collect nearly 5.9 per cent more rate money than the previous year. In the same period Capital Improved Value of commercial property increase by 10.31 per cent while sluggish industrial property rose only 2.10 per cent. On straight valuations and the existing differential rate structure, residential rates would have lifted by nearly 14 per cent while industrial rates dropped more than three per cent. However, council has changed the differential rate structure for “an equitable outcome”, meaning, in effect, that rate charges do not reflect the valuations. Council identified a shortfall of $4 million a year in the budget allocation for renewing assets which has been largely addressed this year. Council will

12 | BusinessTimes Dandenong | August 2010

significantly increase funding for road asset renewal with funding growing from $3.314 million to $4.715 million in 2010/11. The 2010/11 council budget will finance a total capital works program of $46.4 million with council funding from rate revenue providing $24.2 million of this amount. The city’s expenditure will increase $11.8 million to $129.7 million over the next 12 months with the biggest cost areas – salaries and related costs plus contract expenditure – accounting for about half the increase.

Where is the money going? Noble Park Aquatic Centre: Total cost of $17.2 million funded largely by a partnership between council ($9.5 m) and the Federal government ($7.2 million). The State government contribution to the project is $500,000. The total budget has been split over two financial periods – 2010/11 budget $14.6 million. The expected completion date of the project is November 2011, in time for the 2011/2012 summer season. The project will involve loan borrowings of $5 million in 2010/11 to complete the works.

other major projects • $900,000 for completion of Warner Reserve Pavilion (total project cost $2.1 million); • $220,000 final contribution towards development of the seven-level multi-deck car park at Number 8 in Springvale; • $2.06 million redevelopment works associated with the former municipal depot in Springvale ; • $550,000 to establish a Meals-on-Wheels distribution centre as part of the move to the regional meals kitchen; • $535,000 refurbishment at Dandenong Stadium; • $650,000 refurbishment at Dandenong Oasis. • $200,000 playground renewals works. • $95,000 master plan, Ross Reserve, Noble Park; • $150,000 ongoing conversion of sporting ovals to summer grasses; • $656,000 ongoing development of Tatterson Park; • $860,000 for library books; • $7.45 million in developer-funded infrastructure works as part of the Development Contribution Plan. Council will further fund $1.895 million in works; and • $480,000 towards Balmoral Av traffic management.


Set in the heart of Dandenong on the corner of Foster and Lonsdale Street, Punthill Apartment Hotel Dandenong offers a brand new accommodation and conference venue for the City of Greater Dandenong. Comprising 56 apartment style rooms, on site restaurant and conference centre which can accommodate up to 300 guests, Punthill Dandenong brings a much welcomed business class apartment hotel offering to the area. The accommodation takes in modern and stylish decor, contemporary furniture, fully equipped kitchen and LCD flat screen TVs. The conference centre is perfect as a space for business events including meetings, training workshops and more.

The facilities are of the highest quality and service is friendly and attentive. Event planners will also be pleased to know that all five conference rooms are complemented with an abundance of natural light. Punthill Dandenong offers the reassurance of onsite resident managers, laundry facilities, gym and complimentary car parking all within the one highly secure complex. The Apartment Hotel sector has experienced significant growth in recent times and is becoming widely accepted as a more economical alternative to standard hotel options. Travellers can maximise the benefits associated with self contained rooms and save on ancillary costs such as room service. For any sales related enquiries please contact Keiran Spencer Director of Sales and Marketing for Punthill Apartment Hotels on 03 9916 8893 or e-mail


August 2010 | BusinessTimes Dandenong | 13


Punthill Apartment Hotel Dandenong joined the family of 13 other Melbourne and one Sydney based property in August 2009




apartment apartment hotels hotels







That Carolyn Kruger’s business has traced a steady growth curve since 1984 when she decided to “promote, not just depend on word of mouth”. She is the driving force behind Melbourne IT Solutions which began in 1986 on foundations laid some years before when a company employing her went into receivership.

By Keith Platt

14 | BusinessTimes Dandenong i August 2010


Using the driving analogy is no a cheap pun, as it also refers to Kruger’s love of cars, especially Nissan Skylines for which she formed and heads a club. “Petrol is in my veins,” she says. Kruger has five Skylines, including one that has a pedigree dating back to Bathurst 1986 and which is still being driven around the racetrack. She says making the right staff choices is a key to success in business as much as making sure whoever is behind the wheel of her racing Skyline is an expert. The evolution of Melbourne IT Solutions closely follows the dawning of the age of computers and their accessibility to small business and the home. After the failure of her earlier employer Kruger continued “doing data entry”, employing a few extra staff along the way. “People began to ask more about computers, so I morphed into that part of the business.” Since then it seems there may be no end to the services listed by Melbourne IT Solutions. “We offer everything in computers from supplying and installing the machines and their software to printer cartridges and running preventative maintenance contracts,” Kruger says while standing in her Carrum Downs office. The office - a module built inside a factory in Silkwood Rise - is home to 12 staff, including technicians and a customer help line. The technicians work on a variety of electrical equipment, including laptops, computer hard drives, televisions and car radio systems. They are carrying out repairs and readying equipment for installation. The rate of expansion has been so great that Kruger has split the business in two: one part concentrating on computing and the other dealing with audio visual. “Three years ago I bought the assets of two audio visual repair companies. They were doing warranty repairs for TVs and electrical goods and it’s been very lucrative.” Audiovision Electronics and Melbourne IT Solutions now run side by side and “compliment each other”. The secret to succeeding in each area is “hiring the right people”. “We’re not retail, and although they’re not our core business, customers can come in to buy a TV,” Kruger says. Melbourne IT Solutions also sells factory seconds on a wide range of products. A mainstay of the audio visual side of the business is repairs and

Carolyn Kruger in front of Melbourne IT Solutions’ new headquarters at Carrum Downs and (below) the workshop offering repairs for computers and audio visual equipment. PHOTOS: Keith Platt.

customer after sale service for national clients including Target, Repco, Jensen car audios and Thomson Audio Visual. Customers of those two brands who need help find themselves speaking with someone in Carrum Downs rather than an offshore call centre. Kruger cheerfully volunteers the service is “not the cheapest”, but believes it has saved her clients much more than it costs. She realised that foreign-based call centres (the services of which have become the currency of comedians) are not popular with the public. “We fix problems for customers of Target and Repco - we’re their consumer help line - and as such have carved out a niche for our business. “It was clever of those companies to realise that Asian-based call centres are a real problem. “If customers don’t have a good after sales experience, they won’t buy from you again. It’s all about after sales service. “We do it right and have very good technicians who are able to make sure what we repair doesn’t come back.” Melbourne IT Solutions has changed premises four times in the past five years, each time gaining more space to keep up with its growing needs. The warehouse section of the new Carrum Downs factory is

fitted with shelving stacked with electronic goods. Space has been left to house entire containers. Kruger runs to a five-year plan aimed at achieving a $10 million a year turnover and to be recognised “as a dominant IT provider”. The choice of business name - Melbourne IT Solutions - is seen as one that “stands out as being professional, one that attracts business”. August 2010 | BusinessTimes Dandenong | 15


More power if you need it AUGUST AgriFood Skills Australia-Cardinia Shire 7am Wednesday 25 August Future-Proofing Food Manufacturing breakfast for CEOs, MDs and business owners. Bookings 02 6163 7208.

SEPTEMBER Greater Dandenong Chamber of Commerce 6.45am for 7am start, Wednesday 1 September Premier Regional Business Awards breakfast. Bookings 9794 8881 CGD South East Business Networks 7am-9am Friday 3 September Showcasing Women In Business breakfast series. Sandown Racecourse (BetFair Park) Bookings 9238 1566 or South East Melbourne Manufacturers Alliance (SEMMA) Midday– 2.30pm Tuesday 7 September Lunch with the Winners. Bookings 9238 1566 or

For sale or lease by Facey Industrial Commercial: 4 Healey Rd, Dandenong.

AN office-warehouse-manufacturing facility for sale or lease in Dandenong will suit an operation looking for plenty of power and water – plus some extra energy sources thrown in for good measure. The property 4 Healey Road is a significant manufacturing facility, centrally located in Dandenong’s industrial precinct and benefiting from easy access to all major traffic routes. The diamond interchange with Greens Rd and EastLink is about five minutes from the door. The industrial 1 site – 18,230m² or 4.5 acres – has 10,336m² of improvements, including about 680m² of office, 9459m² of warehouse divided into four distinct areas plus a mezzanine office and laboratory of 197m². The offices can be refurbished to suit specific

requirements. Multiple roller shutter doors provide access to all warehouse areas. This access is made easier by a large side yard/ parking area ideal for large vehicle movement. The big points of difference with this property are the huge power supply, 150,000 litres of water an hour, gas supply and a substantial trade waste plant. Also, subject to negotiation, the steam plant equipment is also available. The cost of having to instal this ready-made infrastructure would be considerable The premises would also suit as a warehouse distribution facility. For details, call Chad or Josh Kendall, of Facey Industrial Commercial, Clow St, Dandenong, 9793 4455.


Dandenong Retail Traders Association 6pm-7.30pm, Tuesday 7 September General meeting. guest speaker Deborah Peppard of Staff ‘n’ Stuff. Ramada Encore Hotel, 50 McCrae St, Dandenong. Inquiries Roy Aspinall 9793 3487.

16 | BusinessTimes Dandenong | August 2010



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FlyBuys on iPhone FLYbuYS has become the first loyalty program in australia to launch its own iPhone application, giving its 10 million cardholders a new way to monitor their Flybuys point balance and select rewards. Flybuys General Manager Phil Hawkins said the application enables members to check their points on the go and click on a “bonus boost” button to see what special offers are available. it also features maps showing members the location of their nearest participating Flybuys brand outlet, as well as a full list of Flybuys’ 800-plus reward offerings. Flybuys is australia’s largest shopping rewards program and the fifth biggest coalition loyalty program in the world.

Web-based sales talk ViDeoViSit, a web-based service extending professional quality live video contacts from purposebuilt videoconferencing rooms to everyday contacts, has been launched in Helsinki. VideoVisit is the first professional web-based videoconferencing service on the market enabling connections between basic web cameras and highdefinition telepresence systems. Developed by Finnish company netpresence Ltd, VideoVisit is positioned between phone and email contacts and face-toface meetings. VideoVisit will be marketed as a service that combines the efficiency of contact centres and the stronger brand and service experiences created through visual contact. time slots for VideoVisits are booked through a “book VideoVisit” widget placed on an organisation’s website. once confirmed via an email booking note, the connection is opened at the agreed time simply by clicking on a link included in the email.

Head in clouds over computing directions Cloud is a metaphor for the internet but, when combined with the word ‘computing’, the meaning broadens like the heavens. a narrower definition of cloud computing is accessing virtual services over the internet. at the other extreme it is anything beyond your firewall. A clearer picture of cloud computing emerges when you consider IT requirements like greater capacity and adding capability without added infrastructure investment. This is where businesses enter the realm of cloud computing – and it extends to licensing and even training issues. Cloud computing is any service delivered in real time over the net which extends your IT system’s existing capabilities – whether it be free, subscription-based or pay-per-use. Wikipedia defines cloud computing as internetbased computing “whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand, like the electricity grid”. The online encyclopedia explains that cloud computing is the latest paradigm shift following the move from mainframe to client server in the early 1980s. “Details are abstracted from the users, who no longer have need for expertise in, or control over, the technology infrastructure ‘in the cloud’ that supports them. “Cloud computing describes a new supplement, consumption, and delivery model for IT services based on the internet, and it typically involves over-the-internet provision of dynamically scalable and often virtualised resources. It is a byproduct and consequence of the ease-of-access to remote computing sites provided by the internet,” Wikipedia states. “The term ‘cloud’ (evolved from the) cloud drawing used … to represent the telephone network and later to depict the internet in compter network diagrams as an abstractions of the underlying infrastructure it represents. “Typical cloud computing providers deliver common business applications online that are accessed from another web service or software like a web browser, while the software and dats are stored on servers. Most cloud computing infrastructures consist of services delivered through common centers and built on servers. Clouds often appear as single points of access

18 | BusinessTimes Dandenong | August 2010

for all consumers computing needs. Major cloud service providers include Microsoft, Salesforce, Skytap, Amazon and Google.” In May American Dr Werner Vogels, vice president World Wide Architecture and chief technology officer of Amazon Web Services, addressed the phenomenon of ‘cloud computing’ at Web Forward, CeBIT Australia’s 2010 Information and Communications Technology conference in Sydney. He talked about the technology and the opportunities it provides businesses and governments. Cloud technology, he explained, allows users to store data not on a physical server, but on third party computers with access via the internet from anywhere in the world, anytime. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers. In the past, businesses were constrained by the limitations of their server, meaning that big business would essentially need to purchase a physically massive computer in order to contain a server big enough for their data spatial needs. With Amazon cloud computing, said Dr Vogel, customers can expand and decrease their space as needed, with a pay-as-you-go service dependant upon levels of usage. He said cloud computing eliminated the need to build complicated architecture which could be both costly and time consuming. And with automatic scalability in the higher end Amazon services, there is no need for worry about sudden spikes in usage, Dr Vogel was reported as saying. CeBIT Australia lists itself as the leading business event in the Asia Pacific region for Information and Communications Technology driving business strategy. CeBIT Australia is a platform for local and international manufacturers, service providers, distributors, retailers and buyers of Information and Communications Technology to meet and talk business, finding out how to achieve long and short term savings through technology-based business solutions


Government building impression

Past six months... FRIDAY 5 MARCH ViCurban announces preliminary works to prepare for the upgrade of George St and part of Walker St, to align George St with Walker St and provide a better connection between George St bridge (under construction) and central Dandenong. the upgraded road will feature a dedicated bicycle path and priority bus lanes. THURSDAY 18 MARCH Dandenong MP John Pandazopoulos inspects construction works on the site of Dandenong’s new Government Services building, one of the first developments delivered on land acquired by Vicurban as part of the revitalisation, providing 14,399 sq m of office space.

Artist’s impression of Lonsdale St. Top: Above from left: George St Bridge; a sign of the times; Dandenong Railway Station.

Second city’s new life A STATE government–funded $290 million renewal project is restoring Dandenong as the capital of Melbourne’s south-east. Premier John Brumby says centrepieces of Dandenong’s revitalistion are the transformation of Lonsdale St into “one of Mebourne’s great boulevards” and construction of City Walk, connecting Dandenong Station to central Dandenong. The project is being handled by VicUrban for the government and the City of Greater Dandenong. The project, started in 2006, is expected to attract more than $1 billion in private investment over the next 15 to 20 years. Another ambitious expectation within the same time frame is the creation of 5000 new jobs and 4000 new homes in the centre centre. As well as Lonsdale St and City Walk, the revitalisation project includes revamping the railway station precinct and the George St

THURSDAY 8 APRIL Vicurban begins major works to align George and Walker Sts.

bridge, now under construction. Kicking along Melbourne second city’s transformation is redevelopment of the old city offices as The Drum Theatre, continuing redevelopment of Dandenong Market and redevelopment of Dandenong Saleyards as Metro Village 3175, a community with a 1000 homes and anticipated population of 3000 people. Linking Metro Village and the station to central Dandenong along City Walk will breathe new life into the moribund west side of Lonsdale St. This area north of the railway station is already seeing signs of rebirth with a multimillion dollar government offices project being built by Grollo. Developers in the revitalised sector will pay a recovery charge of five per cent of development value to helping finance the infrastructure. The charge is payable before a building permit is issued.

THURSDAY 27 MAY announcement imminent return of vehicular access and 20 car parks to the first upgraded section of Lonsdale St. TUESDAY 20 JULY Works to realign George and Walker Sts progressing well. the bridge creates a new western entry into Dandenong central. TUESDAY 20 JULY Further 16 car parking bays finished on the western side of Lonsdale St between Walker and Scott Sts. a total of 37 car parking bays are now available in this section. the western length of Lonsdale St’s service lane, between Scott and Walker Sts, opens to vehicles and the wider pedestrian footpath is in place.

August 2010 | BusinessTimes Dandenong | 19


Towards leadership What does it take to be a great leader? What should I do to prepare myself to be a senior business leader? These are key questions often asked by aspiring students as they struggle with decisions needed to shape their qualifications towards their future dreams. These questions remain key dilemmas throughout careers as there are many crossroads where choices must be made. These crossroads arise more often than many people would like, but at each crossroad a choice is made that will significantly impact on your potential for senior leadership positions. In my experience this was a question that remained unanswered for too many years and, in a major global corporation, had too many conflicting opinions. After a year of discussion and debate among our global executive team, the conclusion was that there are five specific areas of assessment to evaluate each individual’s potential for executive leadership. Obviously, this was in the context of a global corporation with over 120,000 employees in over 50 countries, but the principles behind this leadership model are very easily adapted to the small business context here in Australia. The five aspects of our leadership model were: • Delivers outstanding results • Personal attributes • Business acumen • Experience • Learning There is an old adage that “tomorrow’s power comes to those who solve today’s problems” and this is still very true today. While your personal track record of achievements and results will be a major part of the final evaluation, it is increasingly important to also understand how those results were achieved. Clear success in leading a process with substantial complexity to deliver an exceptional result is most valued today. Personal attributes are those characteristics that are developed very early in a person’s life and are influenced greatly by their family, their schooling and their social experiences as a teenager. They include personal values, cognitive intelligence, and emotional intelligence. Work ethic and desire to do the very best are very important as is willingness to take risks. 20 | BusinessTimes Dandenong | August 2010

Hamish Petrie* business Consultant

‘Ideally, future leaders will be given the opportunity to gain experience in many aspects of business in their early careers.’ These early characteristics usually stay with the person through the rest of their lives so it is very important to ensure that these are understood and accurately evaluated. Business acumen is learned through study and experience and is usually the focus of advanced business degrees. Customers are the starting point for any business and obsessing about their needs is a critical skill. Understanding financials with a focus on cash flow, the bottom line and the balance sheet are important. Non-financial parameters are critical in today’s businesses so it is important to understand safety and environmental indicators, employee wellbeing, and even the societal impact of your business. With well developed business acumen you can sift through the many dimensions of a business and choose the critical variables that will support your strategy and deliver the key outcomes that you need in your nominated timeframe. Experience has no substitute. To be a great leader today, a variety of experiences can lead to better results as you are more likely to understand how to motivate your people to satisfy the needs of your key stakeholders, including customers, owners, suppliers and financiers. Ideally, future leaders will be given the opportunity to gain experience in many aspects of business in their early careers. If you can combine experience in manufacturing, sales, and functional support areas with experience in different business niches then you will be well equipped to understand all aspects of any business. Getting the right opportunities

early in a career can be very difficult, but the early development of a successful track record will help, even if this is derived from experiences outside the business world. How a person learns is a major point of differentiation between individuals, yet it is often overlooked. There are many competency models used to evaluate people for leadership positions and most consultants have their own versions. However, many of these do not include learning styles. Usually, younger people are prepared to step outside their comfort zone and take a risk, but this appetite to learn often diminishes with time, although it can be restimulated by a new assignment. Motivation for learning can be driven by external events but the best results come when the person has the internal drive to learn. A person who can learn to stimulate an organisation’s creativity as they learn is heading towards becoming a great leader with a positive learning shadow. Living your life outside your comfort zone is, by definition, uncomfortable, but it is the path to maximise your learning and growth. So you see that most of these dimensions are in the control of the individual, but it does require support from someone in their organisation’s leadership group to take a risk to give them an opportunity to learn and grow. Coaching and mentoring are useful processes to help younger people accelerate their learning and many businesses today are using these processes to great effect. The toughest part of building a great career is having a family situation that is supportive and willing to accept the consequences of your career choices.

Action planning questions: • Have you developed an intolerance of mediocrity and desire to be the best? • What gaps do you have in your business acumen and how will you close them? • Do you enjoy being uncomfortable as you learn because of the knowledge that you are growing? • Can you identify and help a high potential person in your business, today? *Hamish Petrie had a 37-year corporate career including 29 years with Alcoa Inc. His last position was as VP–People and Communication for the global Alcoa corporation based in New York, NY. He can be contacted at or on 0404 345 103.


Search for durable earnings In an increasingly short term world, the long horizon investor is always on the hunt for durable growth stories. They may not be big organisations, but ideally they must have an entrenched market share, a superior brand or a capacity for innovation and renewal that provides good margins as well as earnings endurance. Apple and Google are currently obvious giant examples, but scale can create its own issues. Kodak was once dominant in film globally, but arrogance or perhaps timidity delayed a shift to digital imaging. It is now a shadow of its former self. Until the Gulf disaster BP was a fast moving and innovative colossus, but it is – or was – too clever by half. Corners apparently were cut well before the “Deepwater Horizon” disaster and now the damage may be fatal all down the supply chain. Global mastery doesn’t even require a big home base. Finland’s Nokia tried its hand at many things: rubber boots, copper cable and electronics until a minor item, a communication device it devised for the Finnish army offered wider potential. Today Nokia is the world leader in mobile phones and “convergent devices” – well ahead of Apple – and it absorbed Motorola’s phone division just weeks ago. Local examples are thin on the ground, but we have a few. Cochlear commands 60-70 per cent of the hearing implant market globally, but even with this lead it still spends 12-15 per cent of revenue each year to maintain its lead. Computershare, the global leader in electronic share registry management, may seem to have a less technological mastery than Cochlear,

Richard Campbell* stock Analyst

Austral’s Littoral Combat Ship

but it still pours big dollars into R & D as, surprisingly perhaps, not all countries handle share and security exactly as we do. One size doesn’t fit all. A relative newcomer to this category is the WA ship-builder Austal. Over the past 20 years it has built more than 200 aluminium leisure craft and high-speed ferries and is now on the verge of generating a long stream of earnings that could earn it a place in conservative portfolios. For years Austal essentially built one-offs, but gradually a set of skills around design, aluminium welding, manufacturing practice and extended sea

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experience began to converge. It found itself the biggest in aluminium sea craft, particularly large ferries. Its design strengths grew as it had to deliver long life capability, speed, rapid loading and shallow water agility. It so happened that stable, fast conveyance of commuters and buses was not so different from US defence requirements for transporting companies of marines, armoured vehicles and all-weather helicopters. Hulls designed for quick crossings were precisely what the US Navy needed for hunting down cocaine smugglers and heavily armed pirates. Now that the Russian fleet is in moth balls the “Littoral Combat Ship” class is so central to US defence thinking that the US Navy is planning to deploy 50 or a sixth of its entire fleet and is about to announce the winning tender from a group of 10. The competing bid is a speedy Lockheed mono hull, but Austral’s sinister looking trimaran not only offers equal or greater speed, but greater fuel economy in all conditions. A win will see Austal in the headlines, but in any event the longer term investor should take the broader view. Austal’s two operating LCS vessels have won rave reviews and the US army is after 12 of its own. Other navies are also interested. Civilian orders are running at $1.4 billion and cash stands at $93million. Those are not bad ingredients for long range growth: big clients, cash, innovation and diversity of business.

Cardholders Signature: August 2010 | BusinessTimes Dandenong | 21


Elegant big cat Big sports machines are one important area in which the Brits can challenge the Germans and the Italians without feeling in any way embarrassed. Take the subject of this month’s road test for example. The Jaguar XF r – the ‘r’ tells us it’s from the high-performance division of Jaguar that tackles BMW’s M Division, Mercedes’ aMG and audi’s rS head on – has just been fitted with a new heart. For 2010, the already good 4.2-litre engine from the previous XF R has been replaced by an all-new supercharged 5.0-litre V8 punching out 500 horsepower, 374 kW, and a very satisfying 625 Nm of torque. This stunning powerplant propels the big XF R saloon from rest to 100 km/h in a mere 4.9 seconds. Not so many years ago there were pure bred sports cars that couldn’t get off the line with that much alacrity. Acceleration like this makes overtaking ridiculously easy and ultra safe. The engine also makes a mockery of the low speed limits with which we are lumbered in Australia as it’s obviously keen to run at normal motorway speeds of 130 to 140 km/h. It’s not just the big push in the back the new Jaguar V8 provides that makes us smile when sitting beside this engine. Being supercharged means you don’t get the irritating lag that plagues turbocharged units. Put your foot down in the big Jag and it responds virtually instantly – you want the car to go faster and it does. Perhaps it’s the control freak in me, but I like it like that... Then there’s the exhaust note, a real cat-like snarl that’s big in quality as well as volume. The feel of this supercharged 5.0-litre is something you have to experience to really understand what it’s all about. This engine has the slight roughness in its throb that’s made V8s the preferred engines among muscle car enthusiasts since the 1930s. Jaguar’s engineers could have smoothed their engine out to the extent that you would barely have realised that it was there – but because they have a deep understanding of what V8s are all about deliberately chose not to do so. We love it. Sitting behind the new engine is a version of the ZF six-speed automatic transmission that we have admired in so many other cars – including our own home-grown Ford Falcon. This auto has been re-tuned to suit the needs of the sporting driver 22 | BusinessTimes Dandenong | August 2010

Ewen Kennedy Motoring Journalist

who wants to get the best from an R Jaguar. This results in very fast shifts that really get the best from the blown engine. Those looking for silky smooth shifting may be disappointed, that’s because some sacrifice has been made in shift quality in order to get maximum power to the road as soon as possible. For those who like having ratio control, the XF features F1 style paddles on the steering wheel. One on the left for downshifts, that on the right for upshifts. As is often the way, the paddles are set too close to the steering wheel, so you can’t get a proper grip on the wheel for the full 360 degrees. You don’t get this sort of performance without using extra fuel, but the engineers have done a pretty good job in the efficiency stakes. Expect your big supercharged Jaguar to use about 14 to 17 litres a 100 kilometres around town and when pushing it on your favourite stretch of winding country road. This will drop dramatically in easy motorway running and in gentle weekend cruising on the open road, expect petrol consumption to be as low as nine to 11 litres a hundred. The big Jaguar does not sacrifice ride and comfort for handling. The cat grips, and grips hard no matter how hard you push it. The Adaptive Dynamics System monitors body movements 100 times a second, and wheel positions 500 times a second to instantly adjust for optimum handling and ride. There’s also active differential control which limits slip between the rear wheels. Jaguar XF R is relatively conservative in its appearance. It is scintillating in its performance, but this is at little cost to comfort. The ride is slightly firm, but luxuriously comfortable, even across uneven country roads. This Jaguar’s real forte is eating up the miles on highways.

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Cold is the enemy Michael ellis* Chinese Herbalist

They counter inflammation and infection (that is, pathological fire) but indiscriminately also damage the healthy, desirable heat-producing metabolic processes in the digestive system. Therefore they tend to cause cold-natured side effects: enzyme deficiency, poor absorption, loose stools, not to mention a weakening of the cellular activity that defends against other invading pathogens. Of course, in severe febrile diseases, where the body may be damaged by the raging temperature of pathological “fire”, antibiotics are powerful tools that can save lives. But they have been over-prescribed for lesser illnesses where their cooling effects are as damaging to health as they are beneficial to clearing acute symptoms. Virtually all of medicine’s pharmaceutical armoury is anti-inflammatory – that is, puts out fire. It tends not to consider cold as a problem. Even the centrepiece of our medicine – its tremendous skill at surgery – involves patients lying for perhaps hours virtually naked in a cooled operating theatre, while blood flow is restricted in the target tissue, inviting the onset of a cold syndrome. I’m not setting out to take pot shots at Western medicine, merely to point out that while we are relatively expert at guarding against damage by heat, we do not think much about cold. We see health campaigns about the risk of over-exposure to the sun, but we’re yet

to see one about damage by cold. Maybe that’s because fire can kill you quickly; cold is a creeping enemy. (It’s kind of interesting that the very first clinical manual of Chinese medicine, which appeared about 200 AD and concerned itself with treating epidemic disease, was titled “Damage by Cold”.) Like medicine, many foods are energetically cold, too. By “energetically” I mean the effect that they have on your body – on those cellular metabolic processes. Ice-cream is an obvious one – it is cold in both temperature and energetic effect. In effect, it’s cold slime. In fact, most raw food – including fruit – is also cold in effect. Actually, in Chinese medicine we think fruit is grossly overrated as a health food, for this reason. It might be loaded with nutrition, but only if our gut has sufficient digestive “fire” to transform those nutrients into a usable form. At any rate, the earth does not produce fruit in the winter months, our bodies do not need the cooling and moistening effect that fruit provides in summer, therefore we should not eat it now. When the environment is cold and damp, we should be extra careful to guard our inner fire. Instead of fruit, we need to eat warm, cooked, nourishing foods, like stews, soups and baked vegetables, and to add spices to our meals like ginger, cinnamon, spring onions and chives. That way we can survive this freezing winter in good health and minimise the damage by cold. • Michael Ellis is a registered Chinese herbalist in Mt Eliza.

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DAMN cold, isn’t it? Biting southerly winds that go straight through to the bone. Frosty night air that creeps relentlessly into the bedclothes. In Chinese medicine thinking, cold is the enemy. Its chilling effect slows down metabolic activity, consumes the body’s fuel, and renders you more susceptible to invasion – by viruses and other winter pathogens. Your energy retreats deeper inside; you feel less outgoing, more inclined to hibernate. The bottom line is: life is warmth and activity. Death is cold. After all, fire is what began everything. Science’s prevailing view of the universe is that it all started with the Big Bang – one almighty explosion of fire and light that sparked everything. Without the universal “fire” that the Big Bang generated, and our sun continues to provide, existence would not be possible. The universe would remain an inert, black, empty, cold, dead place. In Chinese medicine philosophy, life – and health – is all about maintaining one’s “fire” and defending against the cold, right to the end. That’s why Chinese medicine is uneasy about many aspects of modern culture. Trying to translate a Chinese medicine concept into biochemistry is usually unwise, but it is possible to think of the oxidation processes that occur at cellular level and produce metabolic warmth in the human body as something like Chinese medicine’s concept of the life “fire”. In the digestive system, this metabolic fire enables us to break down and transform our food into a state capable of being absorbed through our gut. Many foods – and medicines – work against the digestive fire. Oral antibiotics are one example. Chinese medicine holds them to be very cold substances.

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