Archive for the 'News' Category

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How To Choose Car Insurance That’s Right For You

Choose The Right Car Insurance

Let’s cut to the chase; buying car insurance can be confusing.

Whether you’re a new driver looking to buy it for the first time, or you’re an experienced driver looking to renew your policy, all you want to do is find the right policy that will give you enough confidence that you’ve got the cover you need, at a price you can afford.

But, with so many insurance policies around, how do you know that the car insurance you’ve found is right for you?

Well, you’re not alone; because year after year, thousands of Australians are left unsure whether they’ve actually got the right car insurance or not.

So, to help ensure you get the right policy when you come to buy your car insurance, here are a few thoughts that will help you to feel more in control when you do so:

1. Shop Around

Whether you’re looking to buy the latest fashions or the latest technologies, everyone knows that the best way to get the best deal on any product or service, is to shop around – and this should be no different when it comes to buying car insurance.

But, one of the best things about shopping around for insurance is that it also allows you to talk to more people.

Now, I know what you’re thinking; “I don’t want to talk to more people, I just want to buy car insurance!” Well, hear me out – because if you take time to shop around for it, it will not only help you to find out about the different kinds of policies and prices out there, but it will also help you to find out more about what everything means.

Mystifying phrases like ‘voluntary excess’, ‘fully comprehensive’ or ‘third-party-only’ start to become less of a concern as you figure out what they mean, how they affect your safety and yes, what they cost.

2. Know What Brings The Cost Down

When you think about it, car insurance is a pretty simple process; if you’re a young driver with a fast car and not much experience, it’s going to be more expensive than your dad who has been driving his Ute for years.

But, there are lots of things you can do to bring the dollars down, and most of it is commonsense – when you see it from the insurer’s position.

Like increasing your voluntary excess, for example. Voluntary excess is the amount you as the driver must contribute to the repairs or damages if you get a bump. Currently, most insurance companies set a fairly standard amount, but if you can afford to pay more, then upping the amount that you agree to pay yourself if you do have an accident will lower the risk on the insurer – lowering your premiums as a result.

Second, think hard about how much mileage you’re going to do in a year. If you’re never going on a long roadie from Sydney to the Gold Coast, don’t include that kind of mileage in your yearly assessment – the fewer miles you drive, the lighter it is on your bank account.

Next, always garage your car or try and make sure you keep it in a secure location. Being locked up in a garage means you lock down fewer premiums, and if your car also has an alarm or tracking system (car electronics), these will also be useful for helping to lower your payments.

Fourth, steer away from motors that have super tuned engines, exotic modifications and any other items that may be expensive for the insurer to replace.

Last, pay in one go – saving monthly interest can mean significant reductions and you may find you get one or two months off for a lump sum up front.

3. Read The Small Print

The cheapest policy is not always the cheapest in the long run – or even the short run for that matter.

Look for things like how much legal cover is provided, and find out about breakdown cover and whether it is provided or not. Also ask questions such as “will I be offered a courtesy car if I do break down?” – because having one will certainly help to make your life easier in the unfortunate event that you’re left without your car for a few days.

Also, make sure you think about things like windshield cover. With some companies it’s a free replacement, while others may ask you to pay a portion up front.

And last but not least, never be afraid to ask simple, silly questions when looking to buy insurance. There are so many companies out there, such as Budget Direct Car Insurance Australia who will be more than happy to help you with any questions – big or small – that you might have. At the end of the day, the more you ask, the more you will know, which will all help to ultimately get the right policy – for you.

Lara Anderson, an experienced freelance writer, wrote this article. Lara specialises in providing useful and engaging lifestyle advice for others.

 

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Australian Trends in Hybrid Cars

The move to more fuel-efficient vehicles looks to be here to stay. At the Detroit auto show in 2010, there were no trucks or SUV debuts, and Stefan Sielaff, Audi’s chief designer, said, “I have a feeling that there is a paradigm shift.” Australia certainly requires such vehicles. The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission stated that Australia would probably become ever more reliant on imports of refined fuel.

Worldwide, sales of hybrids will increase eightfold by 2018, according to the research firm, IHS Automotive. Pure electric vehicles, it added, could be only two-thirds as popular. They can run for only between 20 and 50 miles and have larger batteries. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation said that electric and hybrid cars would play an increasing role in the fuel industry within the next three decades, eventually becoming the dominant element.

Australia could become a centre of excellence for electric and hybrid vehicles. A government-sponsored plan, Automotive Australia 2020 – a Technological Roadmap, said that Australia had some strengths in the area but recommended 32 measures to secure the future of this aspect of the automotive industry.

Among these were the development of supercapacitors that store energy and more efficient and lightweight batteries and electric motors. The report predicted consolidation and restructuring of Australian companies involved and greater competition from low-cost producers such as Russia, India, Brazil and Thailand.

Volkswagen (VW) was initially reluctant to enter the market for cars using electric power, but will now deploy a “considerable” proportion of its $9.2bn annual budget in this area. It will launch a minimum of two high volume hybrids over the next few years. Its subsidiary, Porsche, will act similarly, so there will be sporty hybrids targeted at wealthier customers. VW’s electric car chief, Rudolf Krebs, said that hybrids were a trend that could not be reversed.

Toyota Prius Green Motoring Trends in Hybrid Cars

Toyota Prius

Australians have been less enamoured of hybrids than was foreseen. In 2012, Peter McGregor, Toyota’s Australian Divisional Manager, said sales had fallen short of expectations, but hoped the situation would improve due to a facelifted Prius, a $1,000 price cut for the Prius and the new Camry hybrid.

Hybrids, he said, were a vital component of the future of his company and the industry. The global marketing information company, JD Power, said that reductions in cost would be key to converting interest in hybrids into sales.

As reported by the Herald Sun, hybrids could already be benefiting from the trend. Glass’s Managing Director, Santo Amoddio, declared that hybrids were already selling more than twice as more to fleets than to private buyers but were now increasingly on the shopping lists of private buyers due to growing awareness and appreciation of their reliability. He saluted Toyota’s re-pricing of the Prius and Camry.

 

Toyota Camry Hybrid Australian Trends in Hybrids

Toyota Camry Hybrid

Research into the kind of person who buys a hybrid was reported by www.smartcompany.com.au. JD Power found, after interviewing more than 40,000 car owners, that people who purchase hybrids tend to be older, richer and more educated than the average car buyer: 54 years-old, university-educated and with above-average wealth.

They are also proud advocates of green vehicles all-too-keen to tell others of their benefits. Another study, this time by Mindset Media, discovered that hybrid drivers were free-thinking, spontaneous and creative.

 

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Aussie Rules to Car Hire

Car Rental, Rental Car, Car Leasing

Hiring A Car In Australia Via Expedia

Hiring a car can be a pretty daunting prospect and it’s no wonder why; All of the small print and multiple insurance options, what have I signed up for? Was breakdown cover included? What happens if I have an accident? All this isn’t helped by those horror stories of unscrupulous companies piling on extra charges that you need a degree in advanced algebra to understand.

However, using online companies means that you can compare car hire prices from different rental companies from the comfort of your laptop rather than ringing around or walking into the nearest rental company at the airport. And, in order to wade through the minefield of terms and conditions, we have created an Aussie rules guide to car hire, which will help to translate any of the lingo you may come across, into something resembling understandable.

Check The Fuel Policy

Different companies have their own policy when it comes to fuel. A common one is that you pick up the car with a full tank and return it as empty as you can. This is good if you are not feeling confident enough to use a petrol station abroad but, if you don’t travel enough to empty the tank, it means you are paying for fuel you don’t use. So decide what’s best for your circumstances and be aware of this policy when shopping around.

Common Extra Charges

Companies that do require the hire car to be returned with a full tank will charge you much more than the same amount at a gas station, so make the effort to find a gas station near to where the car is to be returned and do it yourself for less. Insurance excess, this is the same as your own car insurance excess if the vehicle is damaged on return.  It’s so, so important to check the vehicle thoroughly for any existing damage before you drive it off the lot so you are not held liable for it. Some companies offer an extra insurance to even cover the excess, so regardless of damage, you won’t be liable for any charge.  In Australia this is commonly termed a Loss Damage Waiver (LDW). A similar policy is the Excess Reduction Fee (ERF) which, as it sounds, just brings down the price of the excess. Make sure you take an accident report telephone number from the rental company at the time of booking.

Road Rules

These vary slightly from state to state, so if you’re travelling through more than one state, do your research on the driving laws in each one.

Are You Old Enough?

In Australia, most car rentals will require the driver to be 25 years of age and hold a full driving licence, which you will need to produce before you will be allowed to take the vehicle. Younger drivers may still be able to hire, but will have many additional charges, much higher insurance fees and only be permitted to hire a vehicle from a limited group.  Your driving licence should be in English with your photo ID and signature.

Facility Charge

This is the charge you will pay for being picked up from the airport or hiring your vehicle at the airport. Airports charge the rental companies this fee, which they pass on to the customer. If you wanted to save some money, find a car hire company near the airport, but not in it.

And remember, read over the agreement before you sign it and ASK if there is any part you don’t understand. You won’t be the first.

Experienced freelance writer, Lara Anderson, wrote this article. Lara specializes in providing travel advice for all destinations around Australia.

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Sydney: Top 10 Best Places To Live

Well, don’t take our word for it – Sydney has been voted a Top 10 City To Live In…

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Australian Solar Eclipse Tomorrow!

Sun Eclipse, Australian Solar EclipseOn the 14th of November (Australia time, 13th November UTC) a special event occurs in Australia. An partial eclipse of the sun will be visible in all parts of Australia including Western Australia where the sun will rise partially eclipsed. And in Cairns you will be able to see a total solar eclipse.

The percentage of the sun covered in most major capital city is shown below:

  • Adelaide 52% at 7:31am
  • Brisbane 83% at 6:54am
  • Canberra 62% at 8:04am
  • Darwin 92% at 6:11am (sunrise)
  • Melbourne 52% at 8:06am
  • Perth 37% at 5:11am (sunrise)
  • Sydney 67% at 8:02am

This information is provided by the Astronomical Association of Queensland via the Australian Amateur Astronomy Community Solar Eclipse for the Capital Cities and brought to our attention by Ray Keefe of Successful Endeavours.

Australian Solar Eclipse, Eclipse, Sun Eclipse

Australian Solar Eclipse

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Australian Astronomers Recognised Globally

The material for this post was provided by Ray Keefe of Successful Endeavours who is an amateur astronomer and member of IceInSpace, the Australian Amateur Astronomy community. Australian astronomers are a surprisingly active group with some recent recognition on the world stage.

First there was Australian Astrographer, Colin Legg, who won the first prize in the David Malin Awards animation category to be covered in a future blog post.

And now Martin Pugh has been recognised in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition held by the Royal Observatory for his picture of the Whirlpool Galaxy.

IceInSpace run a monthly newsletter and have an extremely active forum allowing interaction between members on a wide range of topics. Typically a forum is more interaction than a blog and is a better format for a widely varying multi-way dialogue like this. You can check out the IceInSpace forums at http://www.iceinspace.com.au/forum/index.php.

A good example of the sort of news you get from them is the upcoming Solar Eclipse on 13th November which is visible in Australia just after dawn. If you are in Western Australia the sun will rise eclipsed!

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Australia Versus America

We can be proud to be Australian have a look at these stats!

America Versus Australia, USA - AUS comparison, US Economic Stats

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$500 Groupon Credit To Be Won

Recently, during their big office move, Groupon staff cleaned out their cabinets and found this ancient looking voucher valued at $500 in Groupon credit!

Naturally their first thought was to give it away. But they want their  Groupies to do a couple of things to truly test their Groupon love and dedication!

Consider it an online ‘Creative Treasure Hunt’ of sorts… All that is required for entry is to write a blog post about what you would use the voucher for if you were to win.

The top 5 will then be voted off on the blog. Click on the Groupon logo below to enter!

Groupon, Groupon Credit, $500 Groupon

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TO WIN $500 IN GROUPON CREDIT

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Average Australian Woman

In a recent cover story in The Sunday Telegraph edition of Body + Soul, this image was said to reflect the average Australian Woman.

I thought it was “provocative enough” to ask what the cover story asked…

Is this woman fat?

Average Woman, Australian Average, Average Weight

Tell us what you think by placing a comment below.

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Overheard On The Oprah Show…

Workaholic, Stressed Out, Overwhelm, Helplessness, DepressionOprah, when she taped her recent Great Australian Adventure Series last year, asked a Melbourne BBQ guest the difference between Australians and Americans:

“Americans live to work
whereas
Australians work to live.”

I have to admit, that sums it up very succinctly.

Ya gotta love this country!!!

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All Of Today’s news in one VIEW

The Internet is overflowing with news and information. Google’s great when you KNOW what you want to search for, but what if you just want a quick overview of Today’s News? Well guess what? Someone’s solved the problem with a MOSAIC VIEW of Today’s news… Click on the hyperlink and be wowed with what smart people can do with RSS feeds and a little ingenuity!

When you come across great stuff like this – please let us know so we can keep you on the leading edge of the latest and greatest stuff on the web!

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Australia keeps up with accelerating technology

Australian Synchrotron, Research, AstrophysicsThe pace of technology is certainly daunting. Which always raises the issue of how to keep up with it especially when you only want information about specific aspects and niche subjects.

This is one area where blogs can really excel. Picking the right blog to subscribe to can provide you with a stream of useful and targeted information that you can’t get from just searching the web each day.

A great example of this can be found at the Successful Endeavours’ blog where author Ray Keefe recently brought our attention to the Australian Synchrotron, a remarkable piece of high tech equipment that can be used by Australian businesses to create breakthrough technology.

The incredible thing is that the $300 Million Synchrotron is available for a mere $400/hour!

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Australian Refugees get paid $56,680/year?

*** NOW, LET ME SEE IF I’VE GOT THIS RIGHT….

IF YOU CROSS THE NORTH KOREAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU GET 12 YEARS HARD LABOUR.

IF YOU CROSS THE IRANIAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU ARE DETAINED INDEFINITELY.

IF YOU CROSS THE AFGHAN BORDER ILLEGALLY, YOU GET SHOT.

IF YOU CROSS THE SAUDI ARABIAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU WILL BE JAILED.

IF YOU CROSS THE CHINESE BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU MAY NEVER BE HEARD FROM AGAIN.

IF YOU CROSS THE VENEZUELAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU WILL BE BRANDED A SPY AND YOUR FATE WILL BE SEALED.

IF YOU CROSS THE CUBAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU WILL BE THROWN INTO A POLITICAL PRISON TO ROT.

IF YOU CROSS THE AUSTRALIAN BORDER ILLEGALLY, YOU GET:

  • A JOB,
  • AN INTERPRETER,
  • FREE LEGAL AID,
  • A DRIVERS LICENCE,
  • A SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER,
  • WELFARE,
  • CREDIT CARDS,
  • FREE EDUCATION,
  • FREE HEALTH CARE,
  • THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS WORTH OF PUBLIC DOCUMENTS PRINTED IN YOUR LANGUAGE
  • THE RIGHT TO CARRY YOUR COUNTRY’S FLAG WHILE YOU PROTEST THAT YOU DO NOT GET ENOUGH RESPECT.

Sensationalism? Then think about just this one [not so] small aspect…

The Australian Federal Government provides the following financial assistance:-

AUSTRALIAN AGED PENSIONER ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS/
REFUGEES LIVING IN AUSTRALIA
Weekly allowance $253.00 $472.50
Weekly Spouse allowance $56.00 $472.50
Additional weekly hardship allowance $0.00 $145.00
TOTAL YEARLY BENEFIT $16,068.00 $56,680.00

Let’s open up the debate… Post your comments and tell us what you think.

Is this true or Internet False Propaganda?

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Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year

The 2012 BRW Entrepreneur of the Year is one of the pre-eminent Australian business awards designed to discover Australians who are building and leading successful, innovative businesses and inspiring others with their vision and personal commitment.

If you believe you have what it takes to be Australia’s leading Entrepreneur and want the recognition you deserve, click on the hyperlink to give it go!

Good luck!

BRW, Entrepreneur Of The Year, Entrepreneur Award

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Australian NBN

NBN Co is an Australian government-owned corporation tasked to design, build and operate Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN). But how does Australia compare to other countries when it comes to Internet speed and cost?

As the illustration below shows, there’s some good news (lost cost) and bad news (low speeds)…

NBN, National Broadband Network, Australia Broadband, Australia NBN, National Broadband

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Australian First Home Buyer’s Grant – The Chance Of A Lifetime

Buy A Home, Australian Grant, Australian Real EstateThe Australian First Home Buyer’s Grant is intended to help individuals, especially young couples to easily purchase their first home. Grants are given to these people so they can have a jump start in their burgeoning careers.

Because of the high cost of real estate today, many people, especially those who are just starting their careers are deterred to buy their own home. Some are content to rent because it fits their current financial capability.

This is the purpose of the First Home Buyer’s Grant – to help these people start their life and move them a step forward toward independence.

The First Home Buyer’s Grant was first instituted in Australia last July 1, 2000. From 2000 until 2011 the grant stayed at $7,000, by the coming of 2012, the Australian government has announced that the grant will remain at $7,000, though some expect an increase due to the increase of home costs.

First Home Buyer’s Grant is made available to those who purchase a home that is worth at least $600,000. The purpose of this condition is to help invigorate the building of houses and boost the construction industry.

Though the First Home Buyer’s Grant should help first time buyers to more easily purchase their new home, some in the real estate market tend to think that many house prices are artificially increased to meet this minimum threshold. Because of this, some argue that first time home buyers seem to be disadvantaged.

Many potential first time home buyers will be dismayed by the current status of real estate prices. Because of the minimum threshold price increase, many argue that it would be better to purchase a house without the grant at a lower price, than to avail it and acquire a higher level of debt.

Addressing this issue, on January 1, 2012, the house price limit to be eligible for the grant was set at $500,000 to $600,000. This can help people get a discount due to the increase of the grant and the increase of the coverage. An average person can have benefits up to $24,000 due to the First Home Buyer’s Grant.

You can consult a home loan calculator to see detailed information about loans so you can decide if you should apply for a grant and get your dream home now or wait a little longer.

In many areas, the real estate market is softening and many are taking advantage of the situation as an opportunity to buy. With the First Home Buyer’s Grant and falling prices of houses these days, the timing might just be right for you. To own your own home and live the Australian dream.

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Teen cut in half in train accident – spraying graffiti

What a headline – I took it straight from the Channel 7 website.

Unfortunately not enough kids are reading these stories, understanding that graffiti can kill.

Graffiti is vandalism, costing companies, property owners or the public a fortune pure and simple.

What’s sad about these stories is that graffiti deaths are preventable – they can just stop vandalising property.

Hopefully this and other blog posts like it will save at least one future death.

It’s just not worth it.

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Be Careful This Christmas

A safety warning courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Statistics:

  • 31 Australians have died since 1996 by watering their Christmas tree while the fairy lights were plugged in.
  • 19 Australians  have died in the last 3 years by eating Christmas decorations they believed were  chocolate.
  • Hospitals reported 4 broken arms last year after cracker pulling incidents.
  • 101 Australians since 1997 have had to have broken parts of plastic toys pulled out of the soles of their feet.
  • 18 Australians had serious burns in 1998 trying on a new jumper with a lit cigarette in their mouth.
  • A massive 543 Australians were admitted to casualty in the last two years after opening bottles of beer with  their teeth or eye socket.
  • 5 Australians were injured last year in accidents involving out of control slot cars.
  • 3 Australians  die each year testing if a 9V battery works on their tongue.
  • 142 Australians were injured in 1998 by not removing all the pins from new shirts.
  • 58 Australians are injured each year by using sharp knives instead of screwdrivers and finally:
  • 8 Australians cracked their skull in 1997 after falling asleep (passing out) while throwing up into the toilet.
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Australian Sickie Stats

Today’s post is based on an article that was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on July 23, 2011 forwarded to us by The Gourmet Guardian, an Australian Food Safety Specialist who helps food service companies avoid food poisoning.

Bob Hawke said it best in September 1983 after watching Alan Bond’s 12-metre yacht, the Australia II, sail to victory in the America’s Cup: ”I tell you what, any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum.” And a stellar moment in the Australian tradition of ”chucking a sickie” was born.

Sickie Stats, Absenteeism Stats, Australian Sickies, Australian AbsenteeismAustralian workers took an average of 10 days each in unplanned leave last year, including sick leave, carers leave and personal leave, according to a survey by Direct Health Solutions. Sick leave is estimated to account for three-quarters of this time, or 7.5 days a year.

So are we really sick one week in the year? It’s clear employers don’t think so. According to the survey, almost three-quarters of employers surveyed believe between 10 to 25 per cent of absences are ”non-genuine”. Employers also report two in three Australian workers regard paid personal and sick leave as an entitlement.

Employers estimate this loss of work time comes at a cost to the economy of $20 to $30 billion a year and have introduced all manner of ways to control it, including requiring medical certificates and employing the services of companies such as Direct Health Solutions whereby workers must ring a registered nurse to present their ailment before taking the day off.

So are we really a nation of layabouts? Or is the tradition of the ”sickie”, like our legendary relaxed, beachside persona, more myth than reality?

Three decades on since Hawke effectively declared his national holiday, the Australian workforce is transformed. We work longer hours, the longest in the developed world on some measures.

The invention of emails, smartphones and iPads mean we are ”plugged in” to the office for more hours of the day, while the number of hours spent at physical work, but unpaid, has also risen.

A study by the Australia Institute for its inaugural national ”go home on time day” last November estimated Australians put in more than two billion hours of unpaid overtime a year. This translates to a $72 billion gift to employers each year in unpaid work, eclipsing the $30 billion employers estimate they lose from workers claiming their sick leave and personal leave entitlements.

Perhaps Australians are just stealing back what time has been stolen from them.

But then again, maybe we really are sick. And maybe we’re so sick because we work so hard.

Almost half of Australians surveyed by the Australia Institute said work commitments prevented them from doing exercise. One in four said they were ”too busy” to see a doctor.

Indeed, a separate survey by the economic modellers Econtech for the health insurer Medibank Private has looked into the problem of ”presenteeism” – the opposite of ”absenteeism”.

Econtech estimates a $26 billion hit to the Australian economy from lost productivity from workers turning up to work while really sick.

Health experts this week revealed a fourfold increase in the number of Australians suffering the flu this month compared to last year. Baffled, they speculate it could be due to more people spending more time together indoors.

Some days it really is worth staying in bed.

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Peter Cosgrove Tells It Like It Is

I teach clients presentation skills in a variety of programs and events. I often explain that it’s best to tell it like it is… But this example takes the cake.

Major General Peter Cosgrove was interviewed on the radio recently.

Read his reply to the lady who interviewed him concerning guns and children.

Regardless of how you feel about gun laws you have to love this! This is one of the best comeback lines of all time.

In a portion of an ABC radio interview between a female broadcaster and General Cosgrove who was about to sponsor a Boy Scout Troop visiting his military Headquarters.

FEMALE INTERVIEWER:
So, General Cosgrove, what things are you going to teach these young boys when they visit your base?

GENERAL COSGROVE:
We’re going to teach them climbing, canoeing, archery and shooting.

FEMALE INTERVIEWER:
Shooting! That’s a bit irresponsible, isn’t it?

GENERAL COSGROVE:
I don’t see why, they’ll be properly supervised on the rifle range.

FEMALE INTERVIEWER:
Don’t you admit that this is a terribly dangerous activity to be teaching children?

GENERAL COSGROVE:
I don’t see how. We will be teaching them proper rifle discipline before they even touch a firearm.

FEMALE INTERVIEWER:
But you’re equipping them to become violent killers.

GENERAL COSGROVE:
Well, Ma’am, you’re equipped to be a prostitute, but you’re not one, are you?

The radiocast went silent for 46 seconds……..

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