Andrew Thomas Braemore Semillon 2014

Braemore SemillonOnce upon a time the Hunter Valley produced enjoyable wines that only became top shelf once you got past the forest floor dirtiness that tended to dominate the nose and taint the front palate.  But the new generation of Hunter Valley winemaker has purged the barrels of any yeasty residue and developed a clean, unadultered ultra attractive style of wine that remains true to the regional characters but irons out any crinkles of the past.

And there’s probably no better example than the Andrew Thomas Braemore Semillon 2014.  While the Hunter Valley is probably the country’s best region for production of Semillon, the Sem we see today is a different proposition to what we experienced a decade ago.

The 2014 Braemore hasn’t yet been released, but it is bound to be a world beater (just like the 2008 vintage).  There’s a stack of green gooseberry flavours up front and a fair lashing of unripened citrus and a touch of flinty minerality across the back end.  You just know that with its abundant acidity, it will stand the test of time yet is such a drinkable proposition now, especially with a summer salad and seafood main.

It’s little wonder that Andrew Thomas has won so many awards and that his 2008 release of the Braemore was awarded 97 points by Halliday.

I suspect it has at least three decades ahead of it in the bottle and while the price tag is representative of its quality ($30), it’s most certainly worth every cent.

Our wine reviewer, Travis Schultz, is managing partner of Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers and lover of fine food and wine.

The Joys of Self Managed Super

shutterstock_174966440-resizedI’ve often heard it said that the relatively high costs associated with running your own self managed superannuation fund makes it uneconomic compared to having your superannuation in an industry or APRA regulated fund. But a recent survey by the National Australia Bank would suggest that nothing could be further from the truth.

According to the NAB survey released in June this year, self managed super funds (SMSF) have performed much better than their regulated rivals in six of the last eight years.  The survey found that on average over the last eight years, SMSF have outperformed regulated funds by around 22.5%.  To achieve that kind of out-performance is remarkable when you consider that the compliance and accounting costs associated with a SMSF are quite significant, especially where the fund holds only modest balances.

The NAB survey found that a SMSF with a balance of around $500,000.00 would, on average, have incurred annual costs of around $7,400.00 but those funds which had higher costs (presumably due to receiving professional investment advice) performed even better and achieved an average return on that additional expense of about eight times the additional costs.

I am not suggesting for one moment that industry and regulated funds are inferior; on the contrary, the fact that they spread the risk across such a wide range of asset classes is one of the reasons why SMSF have been able to outperform over the last six to eight years.  It needs to be borne in mind that SMSF have, on average, had a much higher exposure to domestic equities and it is that sector which has achieved far better returns over the last six to eight years than, for example, international equities (where regulated funds tend to have a higher proportion of their funds under management).

If there’s one lesson to be learned from this data, it’s that investment of superannuation is not so much about cost but rather value; where higher costs in paying for advice mean leveraging your return on investment, then it’s always going to be money well spent!

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


shutterstock_134935040-resizedIs it just me or do the Australian Bureau of Statistic jobless figures cause you to lay awake at night worrying about the future for your kids?

While unemployment figures may have hit a 12 year high at 6.4% in July this year, the youth unemployment figures are even more startling.  According to the ABS data, over 14% of people aged 15 to 24 are currently unemployed and with the economy currently facing strong headwinds, there’s probably little cause for optimism.

It’s one thing for our politicians to decree that our youth need to be “earning or learning”, but they need skills and they need jobs.  In more prosperous economic times there are far more opportunities for our youth to get a start as employers are more likely to be prepared to train a newcomer to the industry when the labour market is tight.

When I suggest that our youth need to develop skills, I’m not talking about undertaking certificate courses, diplomas or even bachelor degrees in areas of interest to the individual but useless in the labour market.  After all, basket weaving, philosophy and archaeology are all very interesting, but how many jobs are there for those with an education and skills in the field?

Perhaps it’s time that we take a whole new approach to the issue of youth unemployment.  While the retail and services sectors are likely to face challenging times for a few years to come, perhaps the moment has arrived to reinvest in trade based traineeships within Local and State Government to give our youth the opportunity to not only learn transferable skills, but to make a contribution to the community at the same time?  Is it not better to have the Federal Government subsidise a trainee wage whilst our youth learn usable skills rather than handing out Newstart benefits and telling them they need to apply for ten jobs a week that they have no prospect of securing?  We may have a budget hole to fill, but a bit of short term fiscal pain for the benefit of longer term national gain might prevent a real social problem developing if youth underemployment continues to rise!

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

Are you thinking of selling your house this Spring?

shutterstock_137432012-resizedHere a few tips to help you prepare for a Spring Sale!

  1. Clean & Declutter
  2. Do a thorough inspection
  3. Eliminate odors
  4. Paint
  5. Finish projects & repairs
  6. Clean or replace flooring
  7. Freshen up fixtures & hardware
  8. Create a welcoming entrance
  9. Stage
  10. Get your real price.

Don’t forget we can help with you the buying or selling of a property. Contact STOLAW today on 1300 STOLAW or visit our website

Preparing to sell your property has a great checklist when you are preparing to sell your property.

  1. Make the decision to sell
  2. Prepare your property
  3. Choose an agent
  4. How to sell
  5. Determine your selling price
  6. Prepare the contract of sale
  7. Marketing your property
  8. Going on the market
  9. Negotiation or auction
  10. Under contract
  11. Settlement day.

You can read more on here:

What is Separation?

SeparationSeparation is when you are no longer living together as a ‘couple’, but you still maybe living in the same house. Living together but being separated is called “separation under the one roof”.

If you are separated but still living under the one roof, you may need to provide proof to government organisations such as Centrelink.

In order to determine if you are separated under the one room, you may want to consider the following:

  • you sleep together
  • you have sex or sexual activity
  • you share meals and domestic duties (in a different way to when you were married)
  • you share money and bank accounts
  • your friends and family think of you as separated.

If you need legal advice regarding Separation, contact our Family Law team today on 1300 STOLAW or fill out a form on our website.

(Source: Legal Aid Queensland)

Do you think ‘MEA’ should be allowed to continue teaching?

TeacherA woman who has a violent history and has been accused of hitting her children and stabbing her husband has been cleared by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to continue teaching.

The VCAT ruled it was in the ‘public interest’ that she continues teaching even though she has a “long history of suicidal ideations and erratic, sometimes violent behaviours in front of children”.

Although VCAT deputy president Heather Lambrick thought it was of “grave concern that parental violence occurred in the presence of children” she has also said “MEA has a very impressive professional history of which she is justifiably proud”, and she did not consider MEA an “unjustifiable risk to the safety of children at large”.

Ms Lambrick has said “‘MEA is currently being looked after in psychiatric care and once stable will pose no risk to children.”

Bikie jailed over threats made to ex-partner and her son

jailA bikie will spend at least 2 years behind bars after threatening to kill his ex-partner and her young son while they slept. The man spent six-months terrorising her and her son, despite an intervention order being in place to protect the woman.

The couple separated in September last year after a 13 year relationship and he had already served time in jail for breaching intervention orders against her.

“I’m going to f—ing cave your head in and don’t think people will stop me,” he told her on one occasion in front of dozens of witnesses.

“Your days are numbered,” he told her in one and warned her to “order a coffin” in another.

The man is a serious violent offender with a history dating back to 1997.

He pleaded guilty to more than a dozen charges which include unlawful assault, criminal damage and threat to kill.

Death of 3 year old boy

Child AbuseLast month a toddler was found unconscious in a home in Oberon. The 3 year old boy suffered abuse which included being kept in an esky filled with ice. Other reports state that the man allegedly taped a ball in the boy’s mouth, kicked and hit him with a wooden spoon.

The boy lived with his grandmother from birth until they moved to Oberon in June 2014. It is expected that this is when the abuse started.

The court has heard from The Westmead Children’s Hospital that the injuries that the child sustained were to his head and face, also bleeding in the eyes and bruising to the lower back.

The 45-year-old man has appeared at Bathurst Local Court charged with manslaughter and recklessly causing grievous bodily harm.

If you know of anyone suffering from abuse, please contact our Family Law Department 1300 STOLAW or visit our website