Saturday, January 22, 2011


We made it!!

Sydney us very much a tourist city, I felt as though even the shop owners weren't Australian.

There are street performers everywhere, barely far enough to not have to yell over one another.

The view from the balcony of our YHA.

The opera house.

More of the view- Orion is upside down in the sky

Featherdale Wildlife Park:

This wildlife park was pretty different than the first. Few animals were in cages and most were allowed to freely wander the park. In regards to pwtting the animals I thought it was a bit worst, even though the animals were more condensed to specific areas they tended to walk away from people who didnt feed them. All the tourists were feeding the animals unhealthy things like chips, which made me a little ubcomfortable. Even if they like the special treatment, the animals clearly only cared about being fed; whereas, those at the other sanctuary were simply accustomed to people petting them without expecting food. Plus, this park was set up like a zoo with small enclosures for each animal, while the first was a sanctuary with appropriately large pens per animal.

My camera died, but I still got a picture holding a baby joey. I need my own. Apparently you can toilet train them and they will go on walks with you. Plus, a kangaroo would be such an awesome guard animal- it would box a robber.

I also held a snake, which isn't as awesome as a tiny baby kangaroo.



Red kangaroo

Blue Mountain Tours:
We went on two hikes through the blue mountains. The first was only 30 minutes and the second was about 45 through a rainforest. The second involved a 90 second ride on the steepest land train in the world. Since we werent strapped in many people screamed... Some more than others.

View from the first walk - camera died before second.

On our way to lunch in a 360 degree rotating cafe, we went on these gondolas with opaque floors. Once we were sufficiently far above the tree tops the floor turned clear.

Sydney Harbor boat tour:
This boat tour narrated important and historical landmarks along the Sydney water line. We learned about their housing and employment troubles during their depression and the islands they used to house criminals.

Federal Reserve Bank of Australia:

The walls of Australias Federal Reserve are covered in humorous and lively posters for war bonds.

Jeff Conins and Richard Finlay spoke to our group about the monetary policies and economic outlooks for the Australia Federal Reserve.

The reserve bank of Australia is responsible for:
- monetary policy
- payments system stability and efficiency
- financial system stability
- issuing Auatralia's currency
- banker to the government
- managing foreign exchange

How do they implement monetary policy?
US adjusts rates, but in Australia interbank transactions are settled by RBA accounts which in theory changes the amount of money in the system to set the interest rate. But, they really never have to make adjustments. The market is smaller here than in the US so there are fewer players to play the game, so you cant cheat without it being seen and getting hurt the next day.

How does the RBA affect inflation?
- the RBA Board sets the policy interest rate ('cash rate')
- changes in the cash rate affect other interest rates in the economy
- changes in these interest rates affect private consumption and investment
- inflation likely to be steady and low when total spending is close to output

Australia uses a floating exchange rate. Their cash rate turned out better than expected in global economic downturn. Fluctuation is dependant on the economy at that time.

Purple line is what impacts them the most.

As a result of the Queensland flooding there could be fear of countries like China looking for alternate sources of resources like coal, but they expect little long term impact. At te same time, they simultaneously expect exports to increase alongside a strengthening Auatralian dollar.

China has a great deal of influence on Auatralian economy, gives all the control to government policy. The US' concern over China's currency is not experienced here.

The prices of things Australia can buy for its exports. Past the yellow line are future estimates.

Minimum wage in Australia is a little above $10 per hour. Unemployment is undesirably high.

Overseas students are primarily from China and India

Shows Australian governments impact on economy.

Before the crisis they had an inflation problem - now the interest rate is stabalizing. Foreclosure rates have little impact on the interest rate. Also, the net debt in Australia is only 5% GDP.

Australians are very intense about being one step ahead of counterfeitors. They have 7 layers of security in each of their dollars and use polymer technology to make counterfeiting virtually impossible. For inatance, the clear window on currency flunks scanners. Their mottos seemed to be, "if people lose faith in their money it can bring an econony to its knees." Additionally, the Australian Fed always has extra precautions prepared in case they need to add more counterfeiting protection to their money.

While on the topic of currency, Australians prefer to have "colorful" people on their currency notes like an old counterfeiter and women. While these deciaiina may be somewhat controversial, they always are meant to fit the theme of that new currency. Their process decides who gets on the notes via picking a theme, and polling Australians to see who they think fits the theme... Its kinda like Family Feud.

While our fed has focused its recent efforts on the purchase and sale of treasury securities, the Australian Reserve Bank focuses its cental operations on adjutments of the cash rate.

Some of the currency money of the world.

Sydney Opera House:

The Sydney Opera House tour was very informational. The guide told us the history of the Opera House and took us of a tour including every theatre and seeing the largest organ in the world. Unfortunately, we werent allowed to take photos in any of these places, but I have a few photos of the architecture.

Essentually, Sydney wanted an Opera House on its harbor so they made a competition for architects to submit their plans before a comittee. Thousands were submitted, but eventually a late arriving judge chose and fought for a late arriving piece which the others previously disregarded. The building of the Opera House took a long time, over 10 years but I dont remember how long, because the architectural techniques used had to be invented as they went. Towards the end of its conpletion, the governmentnwas so upset with the costs they fired the head arhitect. He never saw his completed master piece before he died some 30 years after its grand opening by the Queen. The ending is not quite as sad as it seems, in the 90s they offered him a position, but he refused to return to Sydney and instead wrote up the designs for the next 50 years and appointed his son head architect.

The basic structure comes out of a semi circular mold, this allows all the tires to have the same mold and angle.

He chose the "v" shape to accentuate the curves of the building.

1 million 56,006 tiles

Quantas Airlines Airport Tour:
QUANTAS stands for Queensland And North Transic Airservices. Our tour took us through the more recent advances made by QUANTAS. The most interesting were their new RFID luggage tags which store all a persons account information so they can bypass baggage claim. These tags are the size and shape of drink coasters, yet can save a traveler a lot if time.

QUANTAS also takes great pride in their efficiency. They have recently developed self kiosks and baggage weighing/ claim services. One concern with this automation was layoffs, but they now have more employees to help customers and are almost twice as efficient during check in.

Their employee management is aomewhat unique as well. They call it "public pride and private pain." Since QUANTAS is auxh a respectable company the employees all claim to be proud to work for QUANTAS, but if asked directly they will list issues with their job. Still, as an be seen in the terminal many retired employees return as volunteers in customer service.

Also in regards to their employee policy. If employee goes on strike for 1 minute they are docked 4 hours then have to finish their 40hr work week in their time off. Rather harsh punishment, but labor unions dont exist to do anything so strikes don't happen.

Childrens play section of Business Lounge

Free computers in the Business Lounge

QUANTAS museum inside the airport - they had a tv playing priceless old commercials

Google Sydney:
Google was one of the most interesting locations we went all trip. Claire Hatton provided our presentation. She spoke mainly of her life leading up to Google, probabky to emphasize how hard it is to get a job with Google.

Although we werent allowed to take photos, I got a few in locations they were more relaxed. Things missing: bathtub tables, fish tanks, snack room, play room, a beach themed floor. water tiles with gel that moves when you step... And so much more.
Claire Hatton

Jungle themed floor

You use a barcode scanner on your phone to view the schedule for the confernce room.

Tire swing

Google earth - wall

This is on the ceiling...

One final reflection left out from the rest of my posts:
Floods: You may see floods on tv, in movies, and in papers there is nothing like experiencing a flood first hand. Seeing the refugees and the destroyed property first hand is something I cannot fathom being able to word. It makes you feel very sad and hollow to see the water continuously rising above peoples houses. To put it into some sort of perspective. Queensland is the region which was flooded, Queensland is the Australian version of Florida - they even call it "The Sunshine State." The majority of their produce and farming is produced in Queensland, and this has been impacted by 11 years of drought. This means they have dealt with a water shortage for 11 years - limiting themselves to 4 minute showers and charging as much for a bottle of water as a bottle of wine. The ground was completely unable to handle rain, let alone endless torrential down-pouring rain. When we left many businesses and restaurants were putting up signs saying they would not be able to perform as usual until the flood damage was past, and putting out donation boxes. I've been told the flood was as large as Texas and New Mexico combined... I don't want to think about how many lives have now been lost or destroyed due to the rain. I believe, when we left the count was at 66.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bundaberg, Melbourne, and Canberra

Bundaberg Rum Distillery:
Before setting our properly protected feet onto Bundaberg distilling grounds our entire tour group was required to place any mechanical objects into lockers, including such inconsequential objects as watches and car keys. This is because our tour introduced us to a closed off a building containing twelve 22,000 liter vats filled with aging rum and highly flammable fumes. These were only a few of Bundaberg's 350 vats, totaling $5.5 billion in Bundaberg rum.

Nearly 96% of this rum is kept in Austalia; only 3% is exported to New Zealand and only 1% is exported to the rest of the world.

From what I gathered, Bundaberg is owned by Diageo, which owns over 150 brands including Smirnoff, Guiness, and many other well known brands.

Barn by the entrance

Main entrance

The management building had a small walk-through tour on the history of Bundaberg.

At the end of the walk-through was a small theatre for power points and video presentations.

This is where we learned about Bundaberg's history and brand marketing image - a friendly polar bear.

Bar and giftshop at the end of the Bundaberg tour. Bartender was telling us how the entire plant was closed due to floods just a few days before.

Our Fosters tour was lead by Ian Johnston, CEO. According to Mr. Johnston, Fosters is in a "duopoly with half the business" which will stick with an Australian centered beer business. Yes, take note of that - it is an Australia centered alcohol business, just like Bundaberg. Although they are Centered around Australia, Fosters exports some wine to the US, China, and New Zealand, but not to Eastern Europe. This is very similar to the model Bundaberg follows, so I wonder if it's based off alcohol consumption markets.

I asked about that theory and was given a lengthy explanation into expansion. To begin, they are considering expanding into India despite its history as a low consumption market. Mr. Johnson reasons this by describing the potential within India's 30 various markets. To financially succeed, each would have to be targeted individually. Incomparison, China is basically one big market so marketing within China can be universal. Four of their major brands are solely available in China, yet globalization has allowed the head of the China team to work from Melbourne until recently. Essentially, you can use the same campaign within every region of China and you never have to change your brand image, whereas you'd need 30 individual ad campaigns to place your product into India. As this is only a small portion of the reason, I'll just happily believe that the US, China, and New Zealand are more condensed and higher consumption markets than those of Eastern Europe. Despite the few markets Fosters enters, they are still the owners of the only wine brand in top 100 supermarket sales. This may be because around the world most of the big companies are liquor companies.

Okay, so remember how I JUST said the "around the world most of the big companies are liquor companies?" Well this is pretty important to Foster's model. They took a very unusual path. The company began with beer but followed through with a pursuit of wine rather than spirits. This is pretty unique for the market, yet is a testament to Foster's success.  As Mr. Johnson put it: "if you put a vine in the ground todays you need 15 years to get something off it, then 5 years of storage... we just don't have time to wait on finance which can be so easily ruined by bad weather or bugs." He continued to say, "theres no room in the spirits industry."However, wine is working well for Fosters, the "per capita growth in wine is growing faster than beer... Highly a trend in the USA... Women must be drinking more!"

Since the wine industry seems to be taking off, the Foster's industry would need to make significant changes. As is typical with industry changes, these suggestions meet complacency, resistance, and fear. According to Mr. Johnson "the corporate environment lacks people development and should reward success." As explained by Mr. Johnson, "if you have a strategy you cant always get a result. If you have the people you can sometimes get a result with the right people... If youre moving in the right direction you can be fine."As we learned in our Introduction to Management courses a good way to cope with change, complacency, and resistance is to create a corporate culture which embraces change. Due to this, Fosters puts emphasis on their company mottos:
Assertive"deliver on our promises"
Aggressive "act with energy and urgency"
Adaptable "positively embrace change"

To deal with industry competition Fosters competes in price wars, knowing that their competition is unable to afford price cuts unto their research and development teams, whereas Fosters does not have this trouble.  Finally, Fosters is coping with the changing industry in another manner: they are going to announce a demerger of beer and wine this February. This means they expect to need to create a new smaller executive board within this new company.
Foster's was especially interesting because most of what Mr. Johnson described were management problems we've learned about in classes, then his solutions were real world implementation of our studies. Hearing about the recreation of a board as well as the difficulty during the decision and elections process in creating that board was interesting as well, judging experience was not the only qualifying variable being examined.

He catered his presentation to us, students.

Mr. Johnson

Mr. Johnson introduces himself to us.

Brewery tour:
Like the Bundaberg tour, the Fosters brewery tour was extremely interesting and informative. The differences between each:
  • They produce 500 thousand gallons per day
  • Demand for packaged beer (outside bars) started around the 80s
  • Employees get 2 free slabs per month to encourage them not to drink at work
  • 20 tons of barley delivered 10 times per day from the farming district (Hopefully little impact from rain - came at a time it can do good)
  • Use just in time inventory
  • Machine fills 1100 bottles per minute
  • Majority is consumed within 1 week of leaving plant

Some interesting facts I learned in the AFL presentation:
  • There is no set field size in the AFL (That would not work for the NFL...)
  • Get rid of ball by hand-balling or kicking
  • While playing players are required to bounce the ball every 15 meters
  • 15 mil spectators
  • 2563 AFL club teams
  • $3.4 billion annually to Australian economy
  • $2.00 to $15 adult unreserved seat ticket - Not only trying to get people into seats. - trying to make it a popular past-time for entire Australian society.
The business aspects: 
  • $1 million per year to put sponsorship on the front of back of a jersey/"jumper", then get 15% profit off jersey/"jumper" sales 
  • "Even if you're the number one sport, keep changing and keep growing" 
  • Pretty much double revenue in last 10 years 8% growth 
  • Now trying to take 2 teams to an exhibition game in China 19 teams in Melbourne Melbourne Cricket Grounds: Canberra Glassworks: We made glass tiles - rotate 90 degrees clockwise
  • Recently introduced 2 new teams because good time, could afford it.
  • Want to recruit players with a draft like the US major sports. Currently, there are competitions for the 18 best non-professional teams all through Australia where they are drafted. Not from schools.
  • 22 players dont play each game so about 5-6 are turned over per year.
  • Kids play in their local community.
  • Average player lasts 7 years but all are guaranteed 2 years minimum in their signing contract 18-38. 
  • Usually retire at 31
Safety (Such a big thing in the US right now, so interesting to compare.):
  • Not allowed to tackle or touch the head. 
  • Head to head clashes are rare and illegal. 
  • Just changed a rule to prevent knee injuries, in the begining they now stand in a circle to they have less momentum when bashing together to get the ball. 
  • Major sponsor is Toyota. 
  • Does famous moments in history in a humorous manner. - Like lifting a retired 70 year old player with a crane to recreate a famous moment.
  • Dont advertise outside australia but indirectly have fans and industry in South Africa. 

Australia Institute of Sport:
The Australian Institute of Sport was established after Australia experiences a set of Olympic years where they won very few medals. They realized that they were one of the few countries that did not support their Olympic athletics with government subsidization and training facilities. In turn they built multimillion dollar training facilities in Canberra for 8 major sports at any time in the large arena. The weight room itself is worth over 2 million dollars. Additionally, if a program does not perform well in the Olympics they risk being shut down so funds can go to a more productive sport. I found it really interesting that they would be willing to shut down an entire sport simply to redirect funds. Makes me wonder why they even compete in Winter Olympic sports. Also, these facilities are not only used for sports training and hosting Olympic games. Since the stadium is set up to support so many people they hold regular performances in the large arena for bands such as Matchbox 20 and Lady Gaga.

The large arena.

A small portion of the co-ed Olympic gymnasium.

Million dollar volleyball net on a Olympic standard court made with extra soft padded balls to cushion falls and dives.

Weight room worth more than @2 million.

Flea Market:

The flea market was structured more like a farmers market. There were almost 100 stands most selling various foods on the first floor.

The food was all delicious and very fresh. (Happy pancakes!)

The second level had more artistic sales pieces. There were some artists selling glasswork and some aboriginal performing artists.

It was nice to talk to the locals as they inquired about life in the states and compared it to their own lives. Of course, they all seemed to envy the weather in the states, but I'm not sure they would have envied it a month ago, before the floods.

Natural History Museum:

The Natural History Museum in Canberra was designed with beautiful architecture. They really tried to display each section of Australia's geography through abstract, 2D, and 3D artwork. I'm sure some of the designs cost the museum millions to put on display; however, many were left unexplained without plaques or mention by the tour guide.

Historical woven containers from each region of Australia. Since I love anthropology, I found it especially interesting how each region of Australia developed similar tools in different manners to suit their specific means. They put a lot of emphasis on how these were important for aboriginal history, but I do wish they had some sort of interactive section to show you why each region was different. While I'm sure any Australian child would know the geographic regions of Australia as well as a US child knows the difference between New England and the west coast, but I am an ignorant American who needs it spelled out for me.

Beautiful woven tapestries took over certain aboriginal regions, while dead animal skin and fur ornamented other regions.

This section was pretty cool. They showed us arrow heads then put a display of a flint took during each stage of production. There was also a stone we were allowed to play with to explore how a grinding stone worked and was used. Many students were shocked by it's smooth feel since the amount of time needed to grind something that large down so smooth, is somewhat unfathomable to students in the computer age.

As you may be aware by now, the Aborigines were artists in both the musical form and the painting arts. I was a huge fan of the painting arts because the majority of their work involves chewing paint and spitting it out through or onto your hand. This tortoise shell showed how their spit spray framed the object they were shadowing.


Australian Parliament was pretty interesting. The building itself is fairly new, it is only 23 years old; however, the larger building was necessary as it was nearly impossible to fit both chambers into the small building across the water.

Main entrance - the fountain outside is designed so that the water changes direction every few feet. Hopefully this isn't a statement towards Australian politicians.

Old parliament house.

They tried to make the house as reflective of Australian culture and history as possible, so the inside is filled with the colors of their gum tree: pale green leaves, and bright pink sap.

See - pale green! (I have a photo of the pink in my photo album, but I'm having trouble loading the other photos.)

The most interesting part of the Parliament house was their voting requirements. If you don't vote during a election you have to submit a legitimate reason (ie in the hospital), then if that reason isn't good enough (or you forgot to submit a reason) you have to pay a hefty fine, or get arrested. They are very serious about voting in Australia and seem both shocked and disgusted by voter turnout in the United States.

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