The Dangers of Social Media

The Dangers of Social MediaSocial media may be a great way to keep in touch with family and friends or to get your message across in business, but it is also an express ride to a real legal pickle for the reckless or careless poster.  Recently the District Court in New South Wales set a legal precedent by awarding damages of $105,000.00 to a school teacher who was defamed on Facebook and Twitter by a former student.  The student, whose father had previously taught at the school, had convinced himself that another teacher in the school’s music department had a significant role to play in his father having to leave the school and authored a series of posts on social media sites that were defamatory of the teacher who had taken over his father’s job.

Although the student had offered an apology after receiving a legal demand, it was found by Judge Elkaim to have been insincerely given because he subsequently continued to protest the truth of the comments that he made.

The informality of social media can create a temptation to author comments which are often made flippantly, carelessly or in poor humor but which can be disproportionately offensive or damaging to others.  As social media sites enable posts to be circulated and re-tweeted very quickly and efficiently, the potential for damage is enormous.

It’s fine to have an opinion and to exercise your right to free speech, but where your written views concern another person, think twice before “hitting enter”.  As a general rule, if you wouldn’t say it to their face, it is probably not a good idea to post the comment online.

Travis Schultz, Managing Partner, Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers, Ph: (07) 5413 8900, Fax: (07) 5413 8958

Credit Law Changes Now in Play

Credit Laws Now In PlayAustralia’s new credit laws took effect on 12 March and are now in full swing across the country.  The changes were designed at making it easier for the “good payers” to obtain finance more easily but the sting in the tail for “bad payers” is that they are going to find it harder than ever before to secure loans and finance facilities.

The spin being put on the new legislation is that it moves Australia across to an environment of “positive reporting”, but I suspect that it could be argued that nothing is, in fact, further from the truth.

Under the old laws, it was only a “default” that would be recorded against the name of a finance consumer and other than with an existing bank or financier, there was no available record of a customer who was historically late in making payments or generally unreliable in meeting monthly commitments.  Now, under the new regime, any late payment of greater than 5 days is going to be recorded and will be available for all potential financiers to see. The transparency of a payment history is a double whammy for those with a bad track record as not only will it mean that it is harder for them to secure finance but when they do, it is likely to be at a higher rate of interest because of the perception of a greater risk.

From a consumer’s perspective the commercial reality is that diligence is going to be required in ensuring that financial commitments are met on time, every time from 12 March as otherwise it is highly likely that the price of tardiness could be a financial hangover that lasts for years.

Travis Schultz, Managing Partner, Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers, Ph: (07) 5413 8900, Fax: (07) 5413 8958

Maverick Breechens White 2011

Maverick Breechens WhiteMaverick Wines are probably best known for their winemaker, Ron Brown, and his elegant Barossa Valley Shiraz, but you know the winery is genuinely “five star” when the “house white” is as good as the 2011 Maverick Breechens.

Squarely aimed at the “everyday tipple” end of the 1300 market, the Breechens is a white blend primarily based on the Chardonnay grape, but which changes in its makeup and weightings every year, depending upon the seasonal variations and what each varietal can contribute to the final product.

The Breechens may be a pale yellow colour in the glass, but it exhibits lively citrus fruit characters both on the nose and at the front of the palate.  Add melons and gooseberries to the middle and a subtle well-rounded and understated all-spiceness at the back, it’s not just a late afternoon wind-down but a partner for spicy Thai cuisine or, in its ever so slightly acidic youth, pan-fried snapper served with baked kipfler potatoes and a green garden salad.  Yum!

And while the fruit is excellent, it’s the textural attractiveness and lingering finish of the wine that makes it such a standout at the budget end of the wine buying spectrum, as at only around $10 a bottle, you’ll struggle to find better value.

Valley of the Giants Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2013

Valley of the GiantsBuying wine at the value end of the spectrum can be a little hit and miss, but you can vastly improve your prospects of scoring runs by buying a type of wine that is the strength of its region of origin.  Like the Valley of the Giants Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2013.  It’s an example of a style that is done exceptionally well in the Margaret River yet will still hit the table at around $9 to $10 a bottle.

On the nose, the scent of cut grass and citrus skin is unmistakable, but on the front palate there are wonderfully zesty kaffir lime and gooseberry flavours which round out to honeydew melon characters in the middle.  The real attraction of the wine, however, is the balance and length of finish which shows a depth beyond its price tag and makes it eminently drinkable on its own, or with delicate seafood or vegetarian flavours.

It may be a budget conscious buy, but it’s also so delightfully acidic, crisp and dry.