VISITORS SPEND UP LARGE ON MILK
Call it finding the mother lode. If you need any indication of just how hot Australian dairy is in China right now, these scenes at a Melbourne supermarket tell the story.
The group of 15 journalists and eight minders was travelling with Chinese billionaire Richard Liu, one of the world’s 100 richest men.
Liu was in Australia to invest in dairy, of course, through his company JD Worldwide. After speculation of a takeover bid for a2 Milk, he splashed $20 million buying a stake in Murray Goulburn’s new dairy trust. But even Liu’s appetite for Aussie milk could not match that of his entourage.
While Liu headed to Sydney for a business meeting, his posse headed to Southbank restaurant Red Emperor for lunch. After a slap-up meal, they were asked by their Melbourne hosts how they wanted to spend their afternoon.
“We want to go shopping,” came the reply.
A bus was organised, with Chadstone the destination, but the group objected. “No. No. Not Chadstone. A supermarket,” the bus driver was told.
The bus stopped at two supermarkets but both had already been cleaned out of milk powder and infant formula. At last the group stumbled across the mother lode at a Woolworths in Burwood East, where two pallets of A2 powdered milk had just arrived.
“They bought as much as they could physically carry,” we were told. “One-and-a-half pallets of the stuff. They even jettisoned clothes to get it in their luggage.”
The group cleaned out the milk powder in under 10 minutes.
On the black market in China, Australian milk powder and baby formula sells for more double the supermarket shelf price here.
THE NEED FOR SPEED
It’s not often car companies have $1 million parties. Well, not since Clyde Campbell left Fiat Chrysler. But German luxury marque Mercedes-Benz is rumoured to have dropped seven figures to rent out the Bathurst racetrack next week so the company’s well-heeled clientele can have a crack at taming Mount Panorama.
Head office in Stuttgart need not worry – about 200 AMG drivers have paid $3500 each for a chance to drive the new AMG C63 and AMG GT on Australia’s most famous track under full race conditions.
High-profile guests include five-time MotoGP champion Mick Doohan, Virgin Australia boss John Borghetti, and Melbourne chef Shane Delia, of Maha and Spice Journey fame.
CALL ME BRUCE
With the Winter Ball out of the way, many of Australia’s politicians have fled Canberra for sunnier climes. Joe Hockey is on leave, we are told. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has been in Brussels and Germany. A suntanned Josh Frydenberg has been seen lurking around the Tour de France, and was lucky enough to meet Australian yellow jersey wearer Rohan Dennis at the start of Stage 2. We won’t call them “junkets”. We will call them “well-timed study tours taken before the demands of an election sneak up”. But the trips, taken by roughly one-third of government MPs, mean that Bruce Billson is now the hardest-working man in Canberra. The Small Business Minister is acting Treasurer and in charge of Finance. But his colleagues don’t mind – they have taken to referring to the affable junior minister as “Radar O’Reilly”. It’s not just a physical resemblance to the M*A*S*H character. “It’s also his magical ability to appear at the PM’s side before being called and be able to finish his sentences,” we were told.
As premier, he was a prolific tweeter. Then Denis Napthine lost his beloved handle, @vic_premier. But it’s worse when you lose those parliamentary staff to tweet for you. There was much mirth at the results when @denisvnapthine tweeted about some new traffic lights in Warrnambool this week – upside down. It was later corrected. But not before some parliamentary colleagues captured it for posterity.