Label My Fish calls for an overhaul of fishy seafood labelling

Frank Camorra is calling for better labelling on seafood products. Photo: Eddie Jim

Enjoy the flathead fillets dished up last night? Chances are the “flathead” was an unrelated species, bottom-trawled in Argentinian waters.

Australia’s lax labelling laws for seafood mean restaurants and retailers can withhold information on the origins and species of popular seafood, depriving consumers of the ability to make informed choices.

On Thursday, Greenpeace and the Australian Marine Conservation Society launched the Label My Fish campaign, demanding Australian laws match the European Union standards that require the origin, species and method used to catch or farm be declared on seafood labels.

“The Aussie ‘flathead’ we think we are eating may well be an imported, cheaper South American fish, of a completely different family,” said David Ritter, chief executive of Greenpeace Australia. “But there is often no labelling on your pub or fast food menu, or packet of frozen ‘flathead’, to reveal the truth.”

The Label My Fish alliance, backed by celebrity chefs, academics, and Taronga Zoo and Zoos Victoria, says clearer labelling will encourage the use of sustainable fishing methods, boost the local fishing industry and lift public health protections.

Greenpeace research shows basa, native to the Mekong Delta and not a member of the dory family, is often marketed as “pacific dory”. Two-thirds of barramundi is imported from Asia.

Pregnant women and children under six are warned by health experts to limit their consumption of certain species, such as shark (sold as flake), catfish and orange roughy, because of mercury content.

“But the labelling laws make it impossible for pregnant women to follow the warnings and that’s a big shock,” said Mr Ritter.

Restaurant and Catering Australia oppose the calls, saying the industry will lose $300 million a year to comply with such laws. The “onerous” task will require updating menus, reconfiguring back-end systems and maintaining compliance.

Its chief executive John Hart says with 70 per cent of seafood coming from overseas through “fragmented”, “irregular”, and regularly disrupted supply chains, even suppliers will struggle to offer detailed information about the product.

“There’s a long way to go before we’re even half way close to being able to meet such labelling requirements at the back door of restaurants,” he said. “Most of the suppliers don’t have anywhere near that level of information. If we don’t know, we can’t put it on the menu.”

Frank Camorra, executive chef of the hatted MoVida restaurants, changes his nuevo-Spanish menus daily and has thrown his support behind the campaign.

He says his suppliers, Joto in Sydney and Clamms Seafood in Melbourne, “know exactly who’s caught the seafood, how it’s been caught and where”, allowing him to share information readily with patrons via menus and wait staff.

“It seems common sense to me. People want to know not only which state it comes from, but almost which regions,” he said, referring to items such as surf clams, prawns and scallops.

Greenpeace says new labelling laws will also benefit local and overseas fisherman who have invested in fishing sustainably but struggle to compete with cheaper imports.

Louis Hatzimihalis, a fisherman from Port Phillip Bay in Victoria, has stopped catching arrow squid and scallops because of imports from South America and China. “We can’t afford to catch it at that price. But you just can’t compare the quality.”

Consumer advocate Matthew Evans interviewed chefs, retailers, suppliers and fisherman here and abroad to examine the impact of weak labelling laws for a three-part series called What’s the Catch?, to be screened on SBS from October 30.

“Some [fishing methods of] seafood we eat damage our marine environment, are produced by people under unfair conditions and may carry risks to our health,” he said. “What we really need is to know just what’s on our plates.”

Chefs Peter Gilmore of three-hated Quay and Tom Kime of Fish & Co have also joined the demand for labelling reforms. Academics from the Australian National University, Sydney University and the University of NSW have also given their support.

A Senate inquiry into seafood labelling is underway and will hand down a report on December 4.

Billy Idol added to ‘A Day on the Green’ concert

Billy Idol added to ‘A Day on the Green’ TweetFacebookBritish rocker Billy Idol will head to the Hunter in early 2015 to play A Day On The Green alongside Cheap Trick and The Angels.

Idol is best known for hits like Dancing with Myself and White Wedding, but the Generation X veteran is still making music.

New album Kings & Queens Of The Underground is due for release tomorrow, while his tell-all autobiography Dancing With Myself was released last week.

In it, he thanks his fans for their ‘‘priceless help…as we work through this nutty gift we’ve been given’’.

The addition of Idol means the show, originally scheduled for February 21, will be shifted to March 28.

Previously announced acts Baby Animals and the Superjesus will no longer perform.

Promoters say any tickets to the original show will still be valid for the new show, or full refunds are available. An email was sent by Ticketmaster this morning to explain the options.

A Day On The Green promoter Michael Newton said the show was shifted to accommodate Idol’s tour to Australia to promote new projects.

“When the Billy Idol tour came up, we thought it would be an amazing opportunity to include Cheap Trick, The Angels and the Choirboys all on the same bill. It just seemed to work together,’’ Newton said.

‘‘The bands loved the idea, we all did, so it’s been great that we’ve been able to make it happen.’’

He said the move has had a positive reaction so far.

“We’ve had fantastic feedback this morning already from ticketholders really excited about getting to see Billy Idol as well. It’s going to be an amazing show.’’

American rockers Cheap Trick and Aussie legends The Angels were announced earlier this year as co-headliners for the festival, alongside pub rock band Choirboys.

The appearance will be one of the first for the Angels – now fronted by Screaming Jets singer Dave Gleeson – since founding member Doc Neeson died in June.

Tickets to A Day On The Green on sale now through Ticketmaster.

The Chaser’s evil genius is back at work with Media Circus

The Chaser’s Media Circus on ABC.The Chaser’s Media Circus on ABC.

The Chaser’s Media Circus on ABC.

The Chaser’s Media Circus on ABC.

What is it?

In their first efforts at “turning the news into a game show” the Chaser folk returned to television last night with the first episode of Media Circus.

Craig Reucassel, who described the show’s format as “kind of like The Hamster Wheel… of fortune”, hosted the show, assisted by Chas Licciardello in the role of a one-man media brains trust.

What happened:

First up we met Team Australia, with the The Chaser’s Andrew Hansen, Radio National Drive host Waleed Aly (or the “thinking man’s Alan Jones”), and Ben Jenkins of The Checkout.

But as we’re carefully reminded, if you’re not in Team Australia “all that’s left” is Team Evil, with Alex Lee from The Roast, “(failed journalist) Chris Taylor” and “(real journalist) Ellen Fanning.”

The game ran smoothly with the occasional hot-tip provided by Licciardello in the fact-checking chair.

Round one began with “News your own adventure” in which Hansen selected “ISIS” from among the news topics of the week.

His question, which he chose to accept, came off the back of a Channel Seven news report and asked the one thing “Aussie terrorist’s who have gone to the Middle East miss the most about Australia.”

The answer? Coco Pops, which is surely the reason terrorists are so violent, says Hansen, “because they start the day with some sugary cereal.”

After a few stabs at the banality of war, and the rhetoric of our countries leaders, it was then on  to round two, “Evil Mastermind”.

The challenge was to determine if sentences with the word “evil” in it were uttered by Prime Minister Tony Abbott or a fantasy movie character, like Elrond the elf master  from Lord of the Rings, or Viggo, the master of evil from Ghostbusters II.

For example: “They will get their hands on whatever they can and they will use it for evil.”

Unfortunately for Team Evil’s Fanning, who guessed a movie character as the sentence was not dramatic enough for Tony Abbott, it was in fact uttered by our fearless leader.

Team Australia won again in round two, taking home a Tony Abbott humanitarian action figure, which came with a Bill Shorten figure to “follow him around wherever he goes.”

And that brought us to the next game “Viral News”. Aly had  to figure out which line about Ebola did not run in the news cycle.

Of his four options, “may be the ISIS of biological agents”, “one of the greatest threats to our existence”, “terrorists might turn themselves into Ebola suicide bombs” and “may push up chocolate prices”, the answer (option two) only illuminated how colourful the media cycle can truly be.

As always they kept the show riding the fine line of political correctness, and never more so than in the next game “Deadly Implement or Religious Accoutrement” – think rosary beads (deadly, according to a YouTube video explaining how they can be used as nunchukkas), a Jewish menorah (deadly, based on the candlestick weapon in the game of Cluedo), and a crucifix (also deadly for obvious reasons).

Team Evil took out this round, winning a statue of a Buddha which doubled as a hand grenade.

Round three began with the game “That’s un-Australian”, with the competitors’ tasked to point out obscure destinations on a world map. Both teams were pretty dismal in locating their designated areas.

And with round four it was time to play “Yesterday’s News”, with Team Australia kicking things off.

On October 15, 1984, the news reported Prime Minister Bob Hawke took revenge on a journalist by stringing him up between two war ships. The question was, why?

Thankfully for Team Australia, Aly remembered the incident from his childhood. Hawke had been batting in a cricket match when a ball bowled by journalist Gary O’Neill hit him in the eye and broke his glasses.

In a sentence:

All-in-all things are looking good for The Chaser’s Media Circus, which kept the laughs rolling and the news ridiculous. With any luck, another week of news will leave them with plenty of material for the next episode.

Best bit

The show is sure to keep you on your toes and keep you watching the news a little more closely. The format is great, and the different style of questions and games keep it fun.

Worst bit

Having to face the reality of how ridiculous Australian media really can be (though this may also be the best bit).

Next episode

Next Wednesday night 8.30pm.

Worth watching again?




Ten’s loss bigger than expected in ratings struggle

Revenue slumped by more than a quarter as Ten’s inconsistent ratings deterred advertisers. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones Revenue slumped by more than a quarter as Ten’s inconsistent ratings deterred advertisers. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

Revenue slumped by more than a quarter as Ten’s inconsistent ratings deterred advertisers. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

Revenue slumped by more than a quarter as Ten’s inconsistent ratings deterred advertisers. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

Tough conditions in the advertising market and poor ratings have pushed Ten Network Holdings to a full-year loss of $168 million, less than last year’s, following the write-down of its television licences.

The metropolitan free-to-air broadcaster reported an underlying loss of $115.4 million in the year ended August 31. The underlying result was worse than most analyst expectations, with consensus net profit after tax for an underlying loss of about $76 million, compared with the $115 million result.

The $168 million full-year loss, following a $52 million write-down of its television licences and other impairments, was an improvement of 40 per cent compared with the previous year in which the network reported a $284 million loss.

“The television impairment charge reflects that the free-to-air television advertising market growth cycle remains low, and that the [Ten’s] share of that advertising market has reduced from the low point in the previous year, albeit showing some signs of recovery,” the company said in its financial report.

Net debt as of August 31 was $80.5 million.

Revenue from continuing operations fell by close to $28 million, while television costs increased by more than $100 million.

“These results highlight the operational challenges facing Ten, with revenue declines and cost pressures. The cost guidance for financial year 2015 suggests management are taking corrective action to address the earnings imbalance, although we still forecast EBITDA loss in [the next financial year],” Citi analyst Justin Diddams said.

Ten is forecasting television costs to fall by 8 per cent in the 2015 financial year.

Ten’s revenue share for the 12 months to the end of August was 20.5 per cent, while its ratings share was 22.8 per cent in the 2014 ratings year-to-date.

“The balance sheet leverage implies sufficient headroom to continue day to day operations which should provide management time to focus on getting the programming mix right and thus improve the revenue prospects,” Mr Diddams said.

Ten shares have slumped more than 32 per cent this year and touched a record low of 18¢ on Wednesday.

While the company is loss-making, the TV licence remains an attractive asset, Mr Diddams said.

There are rumours that private equity firm Providence will be watching the sharemarket reaction to Thursday’s results. A lower share price could make the broadcaster more vulnerable to a takeover attempt.

Ten said advertisers continue to book on short notice, but the metropolitan market is expected to show marginal growth in the coming financial year.

As reported by Fairfax Media this week, the network is attempting to boost revenues by increasing the amount of advertiser-funded television programs it broadcasts. Ten believes the market for brand-funded content to be around $200 million and hopes to make it larger.

Hayne ‘an incredible athlete’, Seahawks

Webster: ‘I can be as good as they are,’ says HayneGould: Hayne backs himself for NFL switchWalter: Hayne can make it as punt returnerMascord: Why NRL can’t be blamed

The head coach of the reigning NFL champions has called Jarryd Hayne “an incredible athlete” and “a great competitor”.

But was the Seattle Seahawks’ Pete Carroll just having a joke?

Carroll was quizzed in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon US time as to whether the Parramatta Eels star could make a radical code-hop after quitting rugby league.

“Our scout down under has been on this for some time now,” Carroll said, which provoked titters in the room.

“He’s an incredible athlete and a great competitor, which is the kind of stuff we like. We’ll see where it goes.”

After the press conference, the Seahawks’ communications head Dave Pearson warned against reading too much into the coach’s comments, ESPN reported.

“He doesn’t even know who the guy is,” Pearson said.

Carroll, a former head coach of the New York Jets and New England Patriots, led the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history last year.

Despite his apparent joshing on Wednesday, he seemed open to the prospect of rugby league players transitioning to the NFL, calling it “an exciting thought”.

“I’ve always thought it would be exciting to recruit down there and all that because there’s some great players. It’s a great game and it’s a very physical, demanding game and those guys have all the same kind of stuff we’re looking for in our guys.

“They’re great athletes. They run fast, they hit hard, they can handle the ball.”

Carroll was mindful of the differences between the games but also saw commonalities.

“The style of throwing and catching things is different and running routes is different to, you know, whipping it out there to them,” he said.

“So there’s different stuff, but we’re looking for great athletes to make the transition. Because our guys on our level are fantastic athletes and I’m sure our guys could cross over too once they figure out how to lateral it all the time and kicking it on the run and all that junk.

“We’d be miserable at that I’m sure. But there’s just a lot of general carry-over. There’s running and making people miss and tackling and hitting and being tough and physical.

“Those things are pretty common.”

Carroll was asked: “How hard would it be for an adult who has never played organised football to jump into the NFL?”

“I think it would be really hard,” he said.

“I think it would be a tremendous challenge and only certain few could do it. There will need to be a lot of patience from the club that goes for it, if you do it in the end.

“It isn’t the kind of thing, I don’t think – and we’re writing a great script here – where a guy could come in in the middle of the season and all of a sudden present a starring role for that team.

“I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think it’s going to take more time than that. But we’ve seen guys come over from other sports, we’ve seen basketball players doing it, it can happen certainly.”

Carroll said he did not meet with Hayne when the Dally M medal winner recently visited with the Seahawks in Washington.

Ebola outbreak: Frontier jet made 5 flights before being taken out of service

US-based Frontier Airlines said Wednesday it thoroughly cleaned a plane that carried a Dallas health care worker the day before an Ebola diagnosis.

Denver-based Frontier issued a statement in response to news that the unidentified health care worker flew Monday on Flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth with 132 passengers.

Ebola front line hard to walk away from for Cook Hill Red Cross nurse Libby Bowell

The airline said it is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to contact all the passengers on the flight.

The passenger “exhibited no symptoms or sign of illness while on Flight 1143, according to the crew,” Frontier said.

The Airbus A320 that carried the health care worker was put away for the night on Monday after it carried the woman from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth. But Tuesday morning the plane was flown back to Cleveland and then to Fort Lauderdale, back to Cleveland and then to Atlanta and finally back again to Cleveland, according to Daniel Baker, the chief executive of the flight monitoring siteFlightaware杭州龙凤论坛m.

He said his data does not include any passenger manifests, so he cannot tell how many total passengers flew on the plane Tuesday.

In a statement, Frontier Airlines said the plane was taken out of service on Tuesday after the carrier was notified by the CDC that the aircraft had carried an Ebola patient.

The health care worker also had flown to Cleveland from Dallas three days earlier on Frontier Flight 1142, the airline reported.

In response to the news that another Ebola patient flew on a commercial flight, the union that represents 60,000 flight attendants on 19 airlines is asking the CDC to monitor and care for the four flight attendants who were on flight from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth.

The Association of Flight Attendants “will continue to press that crew members are regularly monitored and provided with any additional resources that may be required,” the group said.

The Ebola scare prompted the union last week to call for better measures to protect flight attendants from exposure to the deadly disease.

The group’s international president, Sara Nelson, suggested that flight attendants are being asked to do too much in the fight against Ebola.

“We are not, however, professional health care providers and our members have neither the extensive training nor the specialised personal protective equipment required for handling an Ebola patient,” she said in a statement.

Earlier this month, United Airlines was rushing to contact passengers who flew on two flights that carried a Liberian man infected with Ebola from Brussels to Washington, DC, and then to Dallas.

The Ebola-stricken health care worker who flew on Frontier had been treating the Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, who has since died.

Airline-industry stock prices have taken a beating in recent weeks, with some analysts blaming the Ebola scare.

On Wednesday, stocks of Delta Air Lines and American Airlinesfell more than 6 per cent in early trading before partially recovering. With less than 90 minutes remaining in the regular trading session, the two stocks were each down about 2 percent from Tuesday’s closes. Frontier is privately held.

iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 details leaked … by Apple

Leaked: features of the soon-to-be-announced iPads include a Touch ID sensor Photo: 9to5Mac Further screens reveal the iPad Air 2 can take images in burst mode. Photo: 9to5Mac

An apparent error on Apple’s part has prematurely detailed a new line of iPads ahead of the company’s unveiling event Friday, with images of the devices appearing in the iTunes store.

Named iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3, the images confirm that the pair of tablets will include a Touch ID sensor integrated into the home button, but that their design will largely remain unchanged.

An image of the iPad Air 2 also indicates it will be capable of taking images in burst mode, a feature included in the iPhone since the 5s model.

The details appeared in screenshots for a guide to iOS 8.1, the operating system upgrade which is also expected to be unveiled Friday. The premature screens were live in the iTunes store for around an hour after they were first picked up and published on 9to5Mac. Apple then appeared to have removed them but the guide still showed images detailing iOS 8 at time of writing.

The leak follows a long tradition of Apple device details emerging before release, although the apparent leaker is rarely so directly associated with the company. The details come at an uncannily inopportune time for rival Google, which today announced its latest operating system, Android 5.0 Lollipop, as well as a range of devices that will be in direct competition with Apple’s iPhone 6, iPad Air 2 and Apple TV.

Beyond the all-but-confirmed inclusion of Touch ID and the return of a numbered naming convention for iPads, the tablets are widely expected to include a faster A8X processor, an anti-glare screen and the option of a gold case. Announcements at Friday’s event are also rumoured to include the launch of OS X Yosemite and new iMacs.

Top five weirdest TV series showcased at Mipcom

Chasing flies around a padded cell? Watching toilet tubes sing? The state of television is parlous enough, but with a slew of strange and seemingly ridiculous formats on show at the annual Mipcom market, you can only wonder how far we are from watching paint dry.

Mipcom – or, more formally, Marche International des Programmes de Communication – is television’s giant European shopping mall. In physical terms it’s like the Easter Show: pavilions, showbags and a myriad of sideshow alleys.

But in business terms it’s a crucible in which billions of dollars worth of TV deals are done. Many are for quite substantial things: the Idols, the X Factors and a slew of inventive, original scripted programming. But somewhere in the swirl of madness are some of the most truly ridiculous TV shows you will ever find.

Which brings us, as the market closes for another year, to the dishonour roll: the weird, wonderful highlights of the back alleys of the market.

Man vs Fly

Exactly as it sounds, this reality format puts a man inside a padded room with a fly so the audience can watch them quietly go bonkers attempting to swat it. There is a UK version in development with expert commentary provided by Australian “competitive fly swatting champion” Pat Cowell. It will feature celebrities, such as Pineapple Dance Studios’ Louie Spence. Fortunately it’s short – the episodes are three minutes long. The series is backed by Sony Pictures Television.


Described by its marketers as “The Voice with toilet rolls” this is Sweden’s answer to The Voice Kids, in which audience members fashion puppets out of cardboard inner tubes retrieved from used toilet rolls and send them into the show. They are then featured as either audience members or singers. The series launched in 2010 in Sweden and is, to be fair, pitched at kids. But it has become a hit, drawing more than 1 million votes every week in a country with a population of only 10 million people.

Release The Hounds

Fancy being chased through a dark woodland at night by ferocious dogs and, possibly, eaten to death? Welcome to a format billed as a “horror game show”. Three contestants begin each episode, tasked to make their way through a forest so they can unlock treasure chests. On their tail, a handful of set-up scares, including the eponymous releasing of “the hounds”. This also comes from Sony Pictures Television. A version airs on ITV2 in the UK.

Love Prison

Doesn’t that sound fun? From A&E Networks, this is Survivor meets The Bachelor with a prospective couple dumped in a remote location, and forced to cohabit in a small cabin which has been rigged with hidden cameras. It’s true romance meets going off the grid, intended to see how the couple survive in an extreme scenario.

Celebrity Pole Dancing

You’ve seen them dance, dive, get fit, get fat and sit, plonked on the Big Brother couch. But now you can see celebrities pole dance. One from the “you didn’t know you needed to until a small production company told you so” files, this is exactly what it sounds like: celebrities gyrating on poles, hoping to be declared the poliest pole dancer of them all. The show comes from Newen Network Distribution and Imagina Sales in the Netherlands.

In truth, there are thousands of formats on offer at Mipcom, and few crack the big time. An Australian version of Celebrity Pole Dancing is unlikely to surface anytime soon, though the Man vs Fly and Release The Hounds formats, despite being bizarre, did command some serious discussions in the bars and cafes of Cannes’ Boulevard de la Croisette.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of Mipcom has been the emergence of scripted formats as genuinely hot properties in television. For the reality TV format buyers who have historically come to Cannes to outsource their research and development to smarter minds in Scandinavia, that’s been bad news all round. Everyone used to chase the “hot” reality format, but in truth each successive market yields fewer interesting options.

Scripted content, meanwhile, has become a hot property at the market.

Among the scripted series which seemed to make the most noise were the Swedish thriller 100 Code, from Red Arrow, which stars actors Dominic Monaghan and Michael Nyqvist as detectives from opposite sides of the world paired to tackle a murder investigation.

BBC Worldwide, meanwhile, unveiled The Refugees, a science-fiction thriller which tackles a widespread global issue in an extremely inventive way: 3 billion people flee an apocalyptic event in the Earth’s future by travelling back in time to our present.

And the new US drama Wayward Pines, from Fox International Channels, brought a touch of Hollywood to the market, with director/producer M. Night Shyamalan and actor Matt Dillon turning up to spruik their series about a secret service agent who finds himself trapped in a too-perfect small town which is nothing like it seems.

After four days, during which about 12,000 attendees trawlthrough content from some 1700 exhibitors, the Mipcom market effectively wraps up later today. As the last stragglers wander through the Palais des Festivals, many will leave with the market’s overarching theme on their minds: barriers between platforms and screens are breaking down rapidly.

“It isn’t about the size of the screen,” Anne Sweeney, the co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of the Disney ABC Television Group, said during her keynote speech. “Sometimes it’s about the experience. Sometimes that can be inspired by a relationship, and sometimes by your relationship to the content we’re giving you.”

One can only presume she hadn’t seen Man vs Fly.

The Block proves competition’s tough

SOME WIN, SOME LOSE: Contestants of The Block 2014. Set in Melbourne, the show may have proved that the housing market in that city is cooling.THE Block Glasshouse auction last Sunday night illustrated the highs and lows of renovating to sell.

Two contestant couples had a stunning result, selling hundreds of thousands of dollars above reserve, while the other three struggled to reach the reserve, eventually selling for just a tad over.

For the latter, it was a lot of hard work and a long time away from family and jobs for little result.

But as Scotty Cam said on the night – from The Block’s perspective – the show was a competition to win $100,000.

Anything more the couples took home above that was a bonus.

Three couples, though, were very disappointed – and understandably so.

I wonder if the reserves set on all of the apartments were a little optimistic. Watching each auction, it certainly appeared so.

Perhaps the take home is that the Melbourne property market is coming off the boil.

It will be interesting to see the location of the next Block in 2015.

Newy would be just perfect!

Are silent sales good?

IF you were selling your car, how would you go about marketing it? Would you give it to a dealer or sell it yourself?

Either way, would your marketing strategy aim to hit the widest target market, or would you adopt a narrow marketing strategy to save on costs?

It’s an interesting question vendors of property face every time they decide to sell.

If they are a supporter of a wider marketing campaign, encompassing database, web and print, their agent could actively steer towards a multi-platform strategy.

But if they are not, they could advocate what is called a “silent listing”.

What that means is that they only want to market towards their database clients and they may not even advocate signage.

This can be a good strategy if you have reasons for hiding that you are selling. Celebrities are a good example of people who go for silent sales. Also, people who are fearful of neighbours or the general public finding out their personal business.

This can sometimes be in times of stress, such as divorce or bankruptcy.

But generally, are silent listings a good idea?

One thing to consider is whether or not the agent’s database is as large as they claim, or if it is up to date with genuine, ready-to-buy, qualified buyers.

Managing large databases and keeping them current takes manpower, so it pays to ask the question: how current is your database and what strategies do you have in place to ensure buyers are still active?

Databases are constantly evolving so take careful note of their answer.

People buy, opt to drop out of the market for a while or even choose other locations to focus on. Hence agents need to be contacting prospective database clients at least weekly to ensure the database remains current.

Do the numbers. If the agency employs five agents and claims to have 2000 active database clients, that is 400 calls each a week.

How do they achieve that, given much of their week involves showing property for sale or chasing up details for sales that have already occurred and new listings?

So while a silent sale can sound like a good idea, the question always has to be: will a narrow marketing strategy achieve as good a result as a multi-platform approach?

The adage – “you can’t sell a secret” – is still relevant.

Gerard Vaughan named National Gallery of Australia director

Gerard Vaugan Photo: Josh Robenstone Gerard Vaughan will direct the NGA after a turbulant few years under Ron Radford. Photo: Josh Robenstone

Gerard Vaugan Photo: Josh Robenstone

Gerard Vaugan Photo: Josh Robenstone

Art historian Gerard Vaughan reflects on a changing MelbourneMystery surrounds NGA director appointmentOutgoing director Ron Radford on the Shiva scandalShiva scandal leads to calls for museum audits2011 profile of then NGV director Gerard Vaughan

New National Gallery of Australia director Gerard Vaughan says he wants to “draw a line under” the recent controversy over stolen antiquities that saw Prime Minister Tony Abbott personally hand back a statue to India last month.

The former National Gallery of Victoria director, whose three-year term at the Canberra institution will begin on November 10, said he wants to ensure the NGA will in future “do the right thing” regarding items such as the 11th-century Indian bronze sculpture, bought by the NGA for $US5 million in 2008.

Professor Vaughan said new protocols announced by federal Arts Minister Senator George Brandis this week will provide a clear and credible guide for all Australian collecting institutions.

“Certainly going forward, the NGA will do the right thing. It must, and according to that protocol,” Professor Vaughan said on Thursday soon after Senator Brandis officially announced his appointment (which was first reported several weeks ago by Fairfax Media).

The new collecting guidelines for museums and galleries, “notwithstanding the difficulties of the past in relation to the NGA”, put Australia in a very strong position and at the forefront in terms of global best practice for acquisitions, Professor Vaughan said.

Asked if the saga had damaged the gallery’s reputation, he said: “Of course. The NGA has come out itself and said it’s regrettable, that whole process.”

But he was determined that the gallery move on. “Now, it’s not – I can’t go back over the details – it’s not appropriate here, but there are some issues about the way things have been handled. But I would just say let’s look forward.”

Professor Vaughan said he was keen for the gallery to focus on art from the Asia-Pacific region and to engage in what he referred to as “cultural diplomacy”.

He laughed at the suggestion of any rivalry between his former employer and his new one (where the complaint about the Victorian institution referring to itself as a national gallery is oft repeated). “My problem is I’m changing horses, because I used to always have to defend the NGV’s position.”

He said it had been a “tongue in cheek sparring match” between directors of two institutions, but said he hoped they could continue to work together and share items from their collections for key exhibitions.

NGA  chairman Allan Myers, who worked with Professor Vaughan in an equivalent role at the NGV, said he would be an “outstanding” director. Mr Myers said there would be three key challenges for Professor Vaughan: pushing through stage two of the gallery’s expansion, dealing with the Shiva issue and dealing with the gallery’s tightened budget.

Professor Vaughan, who was born in Tasmania but has spent most of his life in Victoria, said he would miss Melbourne and its culture, but he had always been “intrigued” by Canberra and was excited at the move.

With Natasha Rudra, Canberra