Life expectancy for Australian males surges past 80 for first time

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Bronzed and buff: Nick Iliopolous, 83, believes his daily Bronte Beach routine keeps him in shape. Photo: Steven Siewert Bronzed and buff: Nick Iliopolous, 83, believes his daily Bronte Beach routine keeps him in shape. Photo: Steven Siewert
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Bronzed and buff: Nick Iliopolous, 83, believes his daily Bronte Beach routine keeps him in shape. Photo: Steven Siewert

Bronzed and buff: Nick Iliopolous, 83, believes his daily Bronte Beach routine keeps him in shape. Photo: Steven Siewert

For Nick Iliopolous, the key to longevity is salad, sea, sex and sun.

The 83-year-old has been sunning himself in the same spot on the Bronte foreshore for the past 20 years.

The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) suggests many more octogenarians will soon be able to join him.

For the first time in history, Australian men can expect to live past 80.

The breakthrough, revealed on Thursday, means that Australia has joined an elite group of countries.

Among them are Switzerland, Japan and Iceland, where both men and women can expect to live past their 80th birthday.

It comes as no surprise to Mr Iliopolous, formerly of Mount Olympus.

His routine has prepared him for what he believes will be his penultimate decade.

“The secret is salad. Only tomatoes and lettuce,” he said. “Walk for one hour a day and then back to the beach.”

Mr Iliopolous said he was well-regarded among beachgoers for his healthy octogenarian physique.

“People always want to photograph me, they say ‘look at my hair, look at my colour’.”

He believes the other secret is getting married.

“A wife will keep you around longer,” he said.

But men took their time to catch up to women, ABS’s director of demography, Denise Carlton, said.

“Australian women pushed past the 80-year mark back in 1990, so it’s taken men nearly a quarter of a century,” Dr Carlton said.

“But having crossed the elusive 80-year threshold in the 1990s, improvements in expected lifespan for women has since slowed down, increasing by around four years over the period; it’s 84.3 now.”


While Mr Iliopolous may have passed the magic number, the latest statistics are even better news for the rest of us.

“It’s worth considering that 80 years is an expectation from birth. Statistically, the older you get, the more likely it is that you’ll live to an even older age,” Dr Carlton said.

“So a man who is now 50 could expect to live to 82, a 65-year-old to 84, and man who is 85 this year could look forward to a 91st birthday.”

Dr Zakia Hossain, a demographer and sociologist at the University of Sydney, is cautious about singing the praises of an ageing population.

“Just because we are living longer doesn’t mean we are living healthier. An ageing population needs to have adequate services,” she said. “These are major issues that need to be looked at.”

Estimates from the Australian Treasury suggest that facilitating services for an ageing population is only going to become a more significant issue.

By 2042, Australia can expect to have 1.1 million people over the age of 85, up from 300,000 over the past decade.

Rockdale Council: Liberals ‘holding ratepayers to ransom’

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Stymied: Rockdale Mayor Shane O’Brien says the money from the car park sale will be used to pay for a $35 million aquatic centre and a $17 million library. Photo: John VeageA mayor has accused his political opponents of holding him to political ransom, after they have repeatedly walked out of meetings in an attempt to stop a $50-million carpark sale.
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Rockdale Council has received an offer of $48 million for its Chapel Street car park, significantly more than its book value of $12 million, mayor Shane O’Brien  said.

But on Wednesday night, council’s six Liberals and one independent did not attend the meeting to approve the sale. It was abandoned due to a lack of quorum.

It is the sixth time that this has happened since September, councillors said – and every time it has coincided with the car park sale being on the agenda.

“I wouldn’t mind if they just voted it down,” Cr O’Brien said. “But for some reason they’re walking out or not showing up. They’re trying to create a sense of crisis and holding ratepayers to ransom.”

The mayor says the money – worth about two-thirds of council’s yearly income – would be used to pay for two major planned pieces of infrastructure: a $35 million aquatic centre and a $17 million library.

Council voted unanimously for the library, construction of which will soon be underway,  and a motion to invite businesses to tender for a new aquatic centre passed without opposition in May.

The old, leaking Bexley pool has been closed.

“I’m a union official, for Christ’s sake,” Cr O’Brien said. “I should be sticking it up business. But they may have spent $60,000 preparing these tenders. This is not how you conduct yourself in negotiations”.

The council is finely politically balanced, with four independents, five ALP members and six Liberals.

No Liberal members of Rockdale council returned calls from Fairfax, including Liberal power broker and soon-to-be candidate for the NSW upper house, Peter Poulos.

Cr Petros Kalligas responded to questions via email and said that members of his party were acting within the rules.

“Mayor O’Brien’s [$40 million pool] plan is being paid for with fire sales and is financially unsound,” he said. Cr Kalligas said the Liberals would prefer a cheaper renovation of the existing pool.

When asked why the party simply did not vote against the proposal, Cr Kalligas said: “The council needs to heal. We have lost confidence in Mayor Shane O’Brien who is determined to act against the interests of the community.”

Allan Wight, the head of the local chamber of commerce condemned the councillors’ tactics: “Residents gave a vote to these people to represent them. It seems they [only] want the dollars spent during their turn [in office]”.

Rules demand only that councillors attend every third meeting. Even when they do attend, they are not required to stay.

The mayor said that the council’s general manager has filed a complaint with the Division of Local Government. It was unable to respond by deadline.

Body found in search for missing teenager Taylor Almond

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Taylor Almond. Photo: NSW PoliceA body has been found in a nature reserve just kilometres from the home of Newcastle teenager Taylor Almond, who has been missing for nearly a month.
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Police said an autopsy would be conducted on Friday to determine whether the body was that of the 16-year-old, who was initially feared to have run away from her home in Dudley, a southern coastal suburb of Newcastle.

The body was discovered about 11am on Wednesday in the Awabakal Nature Reserve, police said.

The 227-hectare reserve is an area of coastal heath land between Dudley and Redhead, and contains a number of hiking tracks. It is not far from the Almond family’s home.

The body was believed to have been located at the bottom of a cliff, and police said it appeared to have been there for some time.

A NSW Police spokeswoman said on Friday morning that the cause of death was not known, but police were not treating it as suspicious. The body had not been formally identified, she said.

In the past month, Lake Macquarie Police have made several public appeals for information about Taylor, who was last seen at her home about 1pm on Sunday, October 12.

She was wearing a white sleeveless shirt and blue denim shorts at the time.

Taylor’s family said her disappearance was out of character, and police feared for her safety because of her young age.

After an initial police appeal, in which a photograph of Taylor was released, detectives received reports from the public suggesting that Taylor may have been in the Kotara or Adamstown areas in Newcastle, or possibly the Newcastle beach area.

Another report suggested she may have travelled as far as Kempsey on the NSW mid north coast.

At the time, Lake Macquarie Local Area Commander Detective Superintendent Brett Greentree said the information given to police suggested Taylor was safe and well.

“Even though we think Taylor is okay, it is crucial that she makes contact with us or her family,” he said at the time.

“A significant amount of local police time and resources has gone into finding Taylor.”

Support is available for anyone who may be distressed by phoning Lifeline 131 114; Mensline 1300 789 978; Beyondblue 1300 224 636.

NSW public school teachers to undergo performance reviews

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“An unrelenting focus on the quality and capacity of our teaching workforce”: Adrian Piccoli. Photo: AFRFor the first time, every public school teacher in NSW will have mandatory performance reviews in a push to lift teaching standards and ensure “the very best teachers get better” while underperforming teachers are removed from classrooms.
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In an unprecedented agreement between the state government and the NSW Teachers Federation, all teachers will have a performance and development plan and teachers will need to do 100 hours of professional development every five years to retain their accreditation.

A new approach for principals to deal with underperforming teachers will also be introduced, which will mean teachers who fail to perform in the classroom can be stood down in 10 weeks, about half the time it currently takes for a principal to tackle poor performance.

Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said lifting the standards of teachers was internationally recognised as key to improving student achievement.

“To improve student performances, we need to maintain an unrelenting focus on the quality and capacity of our teaching workforce,” he said.

Mr Piccoli said improving teaching standards, not producing more teaching graduates, was the focus of the state government.

His comments came as the vice-chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, Greg Craven, said on Thursday that an ageing teaching workforce and an increase in school student numbers over the next decade meant more, not fewer, education graduates were needed.

The university is the second-largest educator of teachers in the country.

“According to the Australian Council for Educational Research’s 2013 Staff in Australia’s Schools report, close to one in five Australian teachers  is 56 years of age or older,” Professor Craven said.   “There is also an expectation from the Commonwealth government that Australian schools will face a large influx of students over the next eight years, with an additional 670,000 enrolments over that period.”

But Mr Piccoli said “dumping more teachers in the system was not the answer”.

“There should be high standards of getting into university and then we want to maintain those high standards in schools,” he said.

Mr Piccoli said the government would spend an additional $17 million on teacher professional development; an increase of 50 per cent.

Previously, teachers and principals had annual reviews but they were often informal and there was no statewide consistent approach.

NSW Teachers Federation president Maurie Mulheron said the performance plans would apply to everyone from “principals down to casual teachers”.

“We are hoping people will use these plans as an opportunity to do some serious career planning,” Mr Mulheron said.

Finding Vivian Maier is superb cinematic exposure

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New found fame: Vivian Maier has been dubbed “Mary Poppins with a camera”. Photo: SuppliedFINDING VIVIAN MAIER (PG) ★★★★★ Capitol Manuka
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As documentaries go, you cannot get much better than this. With a highly talented subject and a story that plays like a thriller, it will be jostling for an Academy Award nomination in January. And if you know nothing about Vivian Maier, keep it that way until you see the film – an extraordinary story about a woman who hid her photography talent from the world.

The film opens in 2007 in Chicago, with auction-house junky John Maloof bidding on a few boxes of old negatives in the hope of finding some historical photographs of the city. Later, as he started examining the work he had acquired – just a small portion of what was sold that day from a garage clearout – he realised that they were photographs of a distinctive nature – taken by someone with a great eye for life on the streets.

Maloof decided to investigate more, and traced the people who had purchased other lots from the sale. He bought everything he could get his hands on and ended up with an astonishing treasure trove of more than 100,000 undeveloped images – mostly black and white stills taken with a Rolleiflex – as well as come colour stills and 8mm movies. Together, the collection documented 40 years of American life on the streets from the 1950s onwards.

Of course, what Maloof really wanted to know was more about the person behind the camera. So, along with starting the daunting task of cataloguing and printing the best of the work, he began to trace clues about the identity of the unknown photographer. And, teaming up with film producer Charlie Siskel, he documented the journey of discovery – one that led them to Vivian Maier, a reclusive and enigmatic nanny who never married and who never threw anything away. It’s also a journey that takes Maloof to France and to the dark recesses of human nature.

There have been some questions raised about Maloof’s intention in making the film: criticism that it is exploitative in nature and helps sell images he now owns. Yet without his efforts it is doubtful any of Maier’s work would have reached our attention, and it is the work – beautifully rendered on the big screen – that fascinates.

Like many outsiders who turn to art, Maier captures a truthfulness and an authenticity we either deny or fail to notice: the sad joy and honest simplicity of moments experienced in public life.

It’s a fascinating story of obsession, art and anonymity, and a captivating portrait of an intriguing woman – sometimes referred to as Mary Poppins with a camera. Don’t miss it.

Two Days, One Night is an intimate weekend with Cotillard

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Marion Cotillard in Two Days One Night. Photo: Christine PlenusTwo Days One Night.
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TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT (M) ★★★½ Palace Electric

If you like your cinema au natural, the latest offering from multi-award-winning Belgian duo Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne is a subtle treat – an investigation of human values played out over 48 hours as a wife and mother tries to save her job and find her self-confidence.

The Dardenne brothers – who have won the Palme d’Or twice (for Rosetta and The Child) – have established themselves as a force of social realism, their subject matter typically Belgian working-class characters struggling in industrial towns with their situation and/or their personality. Their distinctive style of cinema is dominated by long takes, the use of steadicam or handheld cinematography, jump-cut editing, and no music. All of this puts the pressure on performance, and you can’t get much better than Marion Cotillard playing Sandra, told on Friday afternoon that her colleagues have voted she become redundant so they can have a bonus.

Suffering from anxiety and depression, Sandra collapses with the news until her long-suffering husband Manu (Fabrizio Rongione) convinces her she should visit all 16 co-workers over the weekend with the aim of overturning the decision at a special vote to be held on Monday. Pumped with antidepressants, she starts the difficult task, only to find that many of those who voted for the bonus need the money as desperately as she needs her job. But on her door-knocking journey, she also finds much humanity – some responding to her cry for help with surprising compassion.

The film won the top prize at this year’s Sydney Film Festival and there is no doubting the powerful simplicity of its central idea and the magnificently nuanced performance from Cotillard. Racked with self-doubt, Sandra finds herself cast as beggar, encroaching on people’s private lives at the weekend. It’s not pity she wants, but some kind of fundamental acceptance from the people she works with – most of whom have their own problems, and all of whom are powerless to push back against the emotionally cruel position the business owners have put them in.

Yet for all its quiet power, there’s repetitiveness about Sandra’s journey that makes this a far less engaging story than their best previous work The Kid with a Bike and The Son. The film seems frequently trapped by its own naturalistic methodology, the Dardenne brothers (who wrote, directed and produced the film) working hard to make every point of view valid, with a consequential diminishing of dramatic power. But like its famous social-realist antecedent Bicycle Thieves, it’s an actor’s piece, the gifted Cotillard in frame from start to finish, with the real drama reflected in her every gesture.

Port Stephens councillor Ken Jordan doesn’t vote on Buildev matters due to friendship with Darren Williams

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Buildev co-founder Darren Williams.A PORT Stephens councillor who was the best man at the wedding of Buildev co-founder Darren Williams says he no longer votes on matters relating to the Newcastle development company because of the long-standing friendship.
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Cr Ken Jordan said he had known Mr Williams ‘‘since our early days in Raymond Terrace Catholic Youth Group’’.

‘‘I fill out a form and leave the room,’’ Cr Jordan said.

‘‘Previously, I had voted on things because there was no gain – it was purely a friendship.’’

Cr Jordan said the decision to steer clear of Buildev matters stemmed from the advice of council staff about what constituted a significant non-pecuniary interest, and the tightening of rules.

But it also follows a code of conduct complaint in 2011 that the friendship was not properly disclosed before council consideration of reports on Buildev’s Medowie supermarket development application.

Allegations raised included that Cr Jordan had ‘‘referred a number of times to being flown to Melbourne on Mr Williams’ corporate jet’’.

An independent investigation report noted ‘‘Cr Jordan has stated that he has never flown to Melbourne on Mr Williams’ jet and does not know if he has a jet or not’’.

‘‘I am aware [Mr Williams] has some business association with an organisation generally known as ‘Buildev’,’’ Cr Jordan was quoted in the report.

The investigator found Cr Jordan should have declared a significant non-pecuniary interest rather than a non-significant interest that he disclosed.

Mr Williams was a target of the recent Independent Commission Against Corruption’s inquiry into secret political donations, with evidence tendered that Buildev’s helicopter was used to fly Labor backbencher Joe Tripodi to a meeting with the company.

Cr Steve Tucker also declared a non-significant non-pecuniary interest in relation to the same supermarket application, also because of a friendship with Mr Williams.

However, he said it was not a close friendship and the investigator endorsed his declaration.

Cr Jordan did not vote in 2013 on the awarding of a sandmining lease to Buildev Group company, Castle Quarry Products.

Cr Tucker said he had voted to support the company receiving the lease but did so because of the millions of dollars more that the company would pay to council compared with other tenderers.

He said he believed ratepayers had nothing to lose should Castle Quarry Products fall into any financial difficulties because the council would retain ownership of intellectual property.

Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie said he had no interest to declare before the 2013 council vote on the sandmining lease after his family-owned sand supply company withdrew from the tender.

The Division of Local Government agreed in July 2013, finding that there was no breach of the Local Government Act, after a complaint was referred to it.

Genetic testing: couples ensuring they have healthy babies

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More couples are using a technique called Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis to ensure they have a healthy babyMore couples are using a sophisticated scientific test to ensure they have a healthy baby, according to research released by the Australian and New Zealand Assisted Reproduction Database on Thursday.
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The number of assisted reproductive technology (ART) cycles involving the technique called Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) almost doubled between 2011 and 2012.

Under the procedure, cells are removed from an embryo before implantation and tested for genetic or chromosomal conditions such as Huntington’s disease, cystic fibrosis or hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

According to the report produced by the University of NSW, the number of cycles involving PGD increased by 94 per cent from 1182 in 2011 to 2294 in 2012.

The report found an overall increase in ART with the number of  treatment cycles increasing by almost 6 per cent in Australia between 2011 and 2012.

Almost 33,000 Australian women underwent about 64,000 reproductive treatment cycles.

The average age of a woman undergoing ART with her own eggs was 35, but just over one-quarter of patients were aged 40 or older.

For women aged under 30, the live delivery rate was 26 per cent but for those aged over 44 the rate dropped to 0.9 per cent for a cycle using a fresh embryo and 4.6 per cent for a cycle using a thawed embryo.

There were 12,304 babies born following ART treatment Australian clinics in 2012, with more than three-quarters of them full-term singletons of average birthweight.

The proportion of multiple births following ART decreased slightly to 6.5 per cent in 2012 but is still more than four times higher than the Australian average from all conceptions.

IVF Australia consultant and professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at UNSW Michael Chapman said the low rate of multiple births showed Australia was a world leader in safe IVF with specialists favouring single embryo transfers.

About one in 10 couples are infertile with the report finding male infertility was a factor in 22 per cent of ART procedures and female infertility the cause in 28 per cent of cases.

Western Sydney Wanderers to welcome three key signings for next month’s FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco

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The Western Sydney Wanderers’ chances of lining up against Real Madrid in next month’s FIFA Club World Cup have been bolstered by the inclusion of three players who were ineligible for the Asian Champions League.
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The Wanderers were unable to use Dutch international Romeo Castelen, Socceroo Nikita Rukavytsya or Nigerian Seyi Adeleke during the ACL campaign because of the Asian Football Confederation’s eligibility restrictions.

However, the trio will bolster coach Tony Popovic’s squad for the Club World Cup in Morocco next month, which begins against Mexican heavyweights Cruz Azul on December 13.

The Wanderers relied on their defence to be crowned kings of Asia with a 1-0 aggregate win against Al Hilal in the final over two legs, but the introduction of Castelen and Rukavytsya adds another dimension to their attack.

Rukavytsya, who played against Real Madrid in a friendly in 2011 for Hertha BSC, said he was excited about the opportunity of playing against the world’s best and a potential showdown against the Spanish giants in the semi-final if they can topple Cruz Azul.

“It’s great for the club to be part of this,” Rukavytsya said.

“It’s obviously one of the best tournaments for a club to be involved in. I’ve played against Real Madrid before when I was at Hertha BSC three years ago. I think we lost 3-1 or 4-1 at our home ground in Berlin.

“They are obviously one of the best teams in the world with superstar players. I don’t know much about Cruz Azul. They have to be very good if they won their league.”

Adeleke signed with the Wanderers in August but the defender was unable to travel to Australia until his visa application was approved following strict immigration quarantine measures relating to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

However, six weeks after signing he finally touched down in Sydney and has been training with the Wanderers since the start of October.

Castelen, who represented Netherlands 10 times between 2004 and 2007, has been waiting patiently for his chance to leave his mark at the Wanderers.

He played in Western Sydney’s opening two losses of the season and was unable to take part in the Champions League, unlike fellow recruit Vitor Saba, who signed with the Wanderers in time to play a part in Asia.

Rukavytsya signed with the Wanderers at the start of last month but is yet to play a game for the club. Rukavytsya, who moved with his family from Ukraine to Australia aged 14, has not played  in the A-League since leaving the Perth Glory in 2009.

The 27-year-old was then picked up by Dutch club FC Twente for $1.2 million, a fee which remains among the highest in A-League history.

He has since played for Belgian side Roeselare, Hertha, Mainz and FSV Frankfurt before signing with the Wanderers last month.

“It was a bit stressful watching the [Asian Champions League] final,” Rukavytsya said.

“It was a difficult and very tough game. It was not easy but the boys done a good job. It’s a great achievement for an Australian club to win the Asian Champions League. It was hard because I want to play in every game but I couldn’t be a part of it. We’re a team, and the boys who didn’t play still feel like winners.”

Coles in ‘fresh’ trouble again over Tasmanian pink lady apple claims

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Fresh trouble: Pink lady apples. Apples Stock photo of apples for Owen Pidgeon column 11 June 2014 Photo: AGfoto
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Coles has again been caught misleading and deceiving customers about the freshness of its grocery staples. First it was the “freshly baked” bread, now it is the “spring” apples.

The Advertising Standards Board said Coles had breached the food code with a television spot aired in August and September featuring celebrity chef Curtis Stone.

In the commercial, Stone spruiks Tasmanian pink lady apples at the special price of $2.80 a kilogram, saying “feed your family better, fresher, with spring fruit and veg from Coles”.

A viewer from Tasmania, incensed by the claim, lodged a complaint to the board soon after.

“This is wrong and not possible, I live in Tassie and my apple tree is dormant,” he said. “These apples would have been in storage for months, they are not fresh. This ad is misleading and my wife would like a personal apology from Curtis (or cash).”

Coles argued that even though the apples in question were harvested in late April, it was not misleading to promote them as “fresh” because of cold storage technology.

“Cold storage facilities place apples in a controlled low temperature and reduced oxygen (no nitrogen is added) environment to preserve their freshness … the apples are not frozen,” the supermarket said in a statement to the board.

“Coles considers apples can remain fresh, even if placed in cold storage. ‘Freshness’ is determined with regard to the quality of the produce, not whether it has been stored or not.”

The supermarket giant also revealed the bulk of its apples sold across Australia were harvested in Tasmania over two months in autumn. It preferred selling “fresh” Australian apples all year round in a bid to support domestic growers.

“Coles’ view that produce can remain “fresh” despite storage is consistent with the Macquarie Dictionary, which defines ‘fresh’ as retaining the original properties unimpaired;  not deteriorated; not canned or frozen; not preserved by pickling, salting, drying, etc,” it said.

But the word “spring”, not “fresh”, led to Coles’ undoing.

The board said overall the word “fresh” in relation to apples was not misleading. But the word “spring” changed the context of the word “fresh” to imply the Tasmanian pink ladies were springtime fruit freshly picked and ready for immediate sale.

“The board considered that the likely interpretation of the advertisement by the average consumer would be that the Tasmanian apples being promoted as fresh this spring would have been freshly picked in recent weeks and not over three months ago,” it said in its guilty ruling.

In response, Coles said it would not air the advertisements again.

“We’re committed to supporting local growers and offering our customers great quality fresh produce throughout the year,” a Coles spokesman said. “We only sell Aussie grown apples in our stores with the bulk of apples coming from Tasmanian growers.”


In June, Coles was found guilty of misleading consumers to think its bread was made on the day at the store when, in some cases, the bread was partially baked months earlier in factories afar as Denmark, Germany and Ireland.