Taylors Jaraman Shiraz 2012

Taylors JaramanBy Travis Schultz

If the purists of the wine drinking community still resent the blending of grapes from different regions, they probably haven’t discovered the Taylors Jaraman Shiraz 2012.

While it’s the 66% Clare Valley fruit that dominates with its elegant violet aroma and understated finesse, the 34% McLaren Vale fruit ups the ante with power and the persuasion of rich plums, blackberries and a hint of dried strawberries.  It’s a marriage made in heaven as the boldness of the McLaren Vale fruit is harnessed by the austerity of the Clare and the influence of substantial American oak.

In its youth, the tannins are still chewy and the result is coffee, spice and cassis on the finish, but with time that will undoubtedly settle and create a subtle but silky smooth finale.

You can rely on Taylors to produce a wine of both quality and value and at around $20.00 a bottle the 2012 Jaraman Shiraz is certainly no exception.

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

“Secret Stone” Sauvignon Blanc 2009

BSecret Stone Sauv Blancy Travis Schultz

Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of the New Zealand’s North Island, may be Australia’s biggest selling white wine, but I remain at a loss to understand the attraction.  Take, for example, the Secret Stone from 2009.  For all the promise of its ripe tropical fruit and herbaceous nose, the grassy passionfruit flavors manage only to whimper their way across the palate and while the wine shows purity and an acidic fortitude, the concentration of fruit that made a name for the style seems to have been diluted in the pursuit of volume of output.

At least the Secret Stone has enough acid to prevent the flabby mouth feel of some of the cheaper versions of the Marlborough savvie!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good stand-alone drink at around $15.00 a bottle, but to me, it lacks the integrity of structure that distinguishes a 5 o’clock tippler from a table wine of distinction.

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



Redundancies Can Be Expensive

RedundantBy Travis Schultz

A Sunshine Coast business has recently been ordered by the Fair Work Commission to pay six months wages as compensation for a “redundancy” because the worker’s dismissal was not a case of genuine redundancy. The employee who had worked for a shade shed business at Landsborough was made redundant after the business had two consecutive months of losses and elected to terminate the particular employee because he was the highest paid production worker. He had worked for the company for a period of over four years and he was simply paid two weeks salary in lieu of notice.

At the hearing, the shade shed business called only limited evidence to demonstrate that it had two suffered months of losses prior to terminating the employee. It was not disputed by the employer that there had been no consultation with the employee concerning any prospective redundancy or retrenchment and that no discussion took place about any possible redeployment within the organisation or a related company. There was no discussion of any possible transfer, part-time employment or reduction in wages.

In the circumstances, Senior Deputy President Drake found that the employee had been unfairly dismissed and as reinstatement was not appropriate, because he had made attempts to find alternate employment and had suffered great disadvantage as a result of being dismissed, six months compensation was appropriate. To rub salt into the employer’s wounds, it was also ordered to pay the employee’s legal costs.

The message to employers facing challenging economic times is simple – any redundancies have to be carefully considered and undertaken in strict compliance with the Fair Work Act 2009 and if you are at all uncertain as to your obligations, seek advice.

No Tree Is Safe

Tree disputeBy Travis Schultz

When the previous State government introduced the Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act in November 2011, it was intended to clarify the law with respect to neighbourly obligations to maintain and prune and vegetation, but given a recent decision of the Queensland Civil & Administrative Tribunal, it seems that the new laws will do anything but reduce the frequency and scope of neighbourhood disputes.

Prior to the legislation being introduced, a land owner was responsible for trees and vegetation on their property, but at common law, a neighbour could trim overhanging branches though not force their neighbour to remove trees that were creating a nuisance rather than damage.

The new legislation however, gave QCAT the ability to order the removal of trees where they affected their neighbours’ enjoyment of their land or obstructed a view that they once had.  In handing down its recent decision, QCAT ruled that the legislation introduced in November 2011 has retrospective application in the sense that the Tribunal can order removal of trees and vegetation to reinstate a view that might have been enjoyed by a neighbour decades before.  In the particular case being considered, QCAT ordered the owners of a property at Greenslopes in Brisbane to remove trees and vegetation to allow their neighbour to once again enjoy a northerly view from the Chatsworth Road Ridge which had existed in the 1980’s when they purchased the property but which had been lost due to vegetation growth.

The consequences of the decision are both obvious and significant.  It seems inevitable that neighbours who may once have enjoyed a better outlook, view or even sunlight, but which has been impeded by a neighbour’s growing trees or landscaping, can apply to QCAT for an order that the trees be removed.  Given the increase in value to properties that can be achieved through having a better view or outlook, it seems inevitable that we will see a rash of these “View Improvement Notices” being served between neighbours with the resulting disputes tying up QCAT resources and destroying neighbourly relations.

I wonder whether some times our politicians need to be reminded that – if it isn’t broken, don’t try and fix it?

Restaurant Tenant Entitled To View

shutterstock_146578517By Travis Schultz

In a decision which will be of great interest to landlords and tenants alike, the Queensland Civil & Administrative Tribunal has recently ruled that a restaurant tenant was entitled to rent relief and compensation as a result of their landlord obstructing the venue’s outlook and causing a drop in trade.

The tenant was the operator of the Deck Restaurant and Bar at the Urangan Boat Harbour in Hervey Bay and rented premises from the owner who happened to also operate a whale watching business. The formal lease finished in 2009 but the tenant remained the operator of the restaurant on a month to month tenancy.  Whilst the lease had contained an obligation on the landlord to provide “quiet enjoyment” of the premises, once the lease had expired the landlord began parking their massive whale watching boat “Spirit of Hervey Bay” right in front of the restaurant, and thereby removing the view that patrons once enjoyed from the deck overlooking the harbour.  When trade dropped as a consequence, the tenant ceased paying rent and applied to QCAT who found that the tenant was entitled to rent relief as well as over $100,000.00 in compensation for the landlord’s actions in obstructing the view from the premises.  An appeal by the landlord was unsuccessful.

Depending upon whether you are a landlord or a tenant, your view of the decision may well differ, but it’s clear from either perspective that the Queensland Civil & Administrative Tribunal is not a timid forum and is quite prepared to use its powers to order compensation to tenants even though there may be no formal lease arrangement in place.


Worker Unfairly Dismissed Despite Safety Breaches

UnfairBy Travis Schultz

In a decision which will be concerning to employers, the Fair Work Commission has found that an employer unfairly dismissed an employee even though the employee’s breach of safety policies resulted in a serious injury to a co-worker.

Whilst the Commission found that the employer had a valid reason to terminate, the dismissal was found to be unfair because the employer ignored the other contributing factors including its own shortcomings in its work method statements and didn’t consider other disciplinary actions.

In the case before the Commission, the employer, QUBE Pty Ltd operated a port at the Brisbane Wharf and terminated the employment of a forklift operator who was operating a forklift when a bundle of steel beams fell off the tynes of the forklift and onto the ankle of a stagehand causing a very serious ankle injury.

The employer found that the forklift operator had been moving the forklift without ensuring visual contact with the stagehands nearby and in doing so had breached their safety policy.  Fair Work Australia, however, found that whilst the employee’s conduct warranted serious disciplinary action, in not considering disciplinary measures other than termination, the sacking was unfair because it ignored the contribution to the event caused by the poor method work statements produced by the employer and the fact that the stagehands themselves had failed to maintain visual contact with the forklift operator.  Fair Work Australia found that it was not conclusive that the sacked forklift operator was in fact moving the forklift when the steel fell.  The fact that Workplace Health & Safety issued an Improvement Notice to the employer after the incident due to defects in how the work was organized and performed indicated to Fair Work Australia that the employer had contributed to the incident occurring.

From an employer’s perspective, the decision highlights how important it is to ensure that if an employee is to be terminated, that the decision is not arrived at in haste and without considering all of the circumstances and whether other forms of disciplinary action are warranted, short of termination.  Employers who act swiftly and in a knee-jerk reaction to an incident occurring, are more likely to find themselves facing an unfair dismissal application.

Can I Change My Name?

NamesBy Liz Catton

Reasons why a person may want to legally change their name are many and varied, however an adult may only register a legal change of their name once every 12 months in Queensland.

Up to a child’s first birthday it is possible for the parents to register one change of a child’s given name.  Thereafter, parents can change a child’s given name one more time between the ages of 1 year and 18 years.  Like adults, a legal change of a child’s surname can only be registered once every 12 months in Queensland.

To register a change of name you must have been born in Queensland or have been a Queensland resident for the past 12 months.

An application for change of name requires the applicant to provide a reason for their proposed name change.  It is beneficial to provide as much detail as possible as insufficient information as to the reason for the proposed change of name may result in an application being returned.

It is customary for many people to assume their spouse’s name after marriage.  This does not constitute a legal change of name.

In circumstances where you have assumed your spouse’s surname and you subsequently separate, you may revert to using your maiden name without applying for a legal change of name.

All applications for a change of name must be submitted to Births, Deaths and Marriages, Department of Justice and Attorney General.  Standard forms must be used and application fees apply.

Beringer White Zinfandel 2007

Beringer White Zinfandel (2)By Travis Schultz

It’s not a style that has made an impact in the Australian market, but white Zinfandel has been a huge success in the USA where the Beringer White Zinfandel is said to be “America’s favourite white Zinfandel”.

And the “white zinfandel” moniker is somewhat surprising given that it is more pink than white in the glass and certainly more rosepetals AND  peachy on the palate than any white wine I’m accustomed to.  The fact that a wine as sweet as this needs to be well chilled, tends to make it nondescript on the nose and as it passes across the palate, the sugary preserved apricot flavours tend to deny the wine any austerity.  The lack of an acidic backbone leaves a flabbiness in the mouth feel that had me thinking that I’d just sampled a somewhat flat soft drink.

So while the relatively low alcohol (at around 10.5%) is a plus, and the price point is appealing ($7), I can’t see the varietal making inroads in the Australian market any time soon – at least not while I’m a wine consumer!

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


Pressing Matters R9 2012 Riesling

Pressing Matters R9 2012 Riesling By Travis Schultz

It’s the paradox of aromatic tropical fruit flavours and cheek sucking acidity that makes Riesling such a great food wine, but at the same time, limits its appeal to many wine buyers as their 5 o’clock tipple.  That was, at least, until wine makers like those at Pressing Matters realised the widespread appeal of having just a hint of sweetness at the back of a very dry aromatic wine.

The R9 Pressing Matters Riesling is created from fruit grown in Tasmania’s Coal Valley and while it’s true to the dry acidic Riesling style, there’s a whole bunch of pear, apple and green mandarin across the mid-pallet, yet a minerality coated in subtle sweetness as the fruit caresses its way across the finish.

With such obvious consumer appeal and a $24 price point, this just might be Australia’s answer to Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

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

Party Pooping

PartyBy Travis Schultz

The proliferation of out of control parties driven by social media and entirely without guest lists has seen the Queensland Government plan to introduce legislation to clamp down on the so called “facebook parties”.

Police often find themselves called to parties which have become much bigger and wilder than the host had ever intended when flooded with gate crashes who have learned of the party through social media sites. Under the legislation, parents who allow their children to hold uncontrolled parties can be subjected to hefty fines of up to $12,000.00 and even one year jail terms and likewise the party organisers can face similar sanctions.

The same legislation plans to boost Police powers by imposing significant fines of what could be more than $12,000.00 for those who failed to comply with Police directions and presumably, that would include directions to turn down music or move on “guests”.

While civil libertarians might see the laws as excessive, I wonder whether an equally effective measure might be simply allowing Police to issue accounts for “call out fees” when called to deal with legitimate noise complaints or to deal with drunken revellers who are breaking the law. The system seems to work very well for the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service who can levy fees for unnecessary callouts which waste public resources so why not extend a similar scheme to our law enforcement agencies who are often called upon to deal with issues caused by poorly planned and coordinated parties and functions?

I suspect that party hosts would become far more concerned about complying with noise regulations and Police directions if they were having to pay personally the cost of having the Police attend?