Another success for ZQN-SYD in J (using my EY points for Mrs andye) to the UK call centre number at 2245 EST. Call did drop out three times (once as mobile ran out of charge) so took over an hour-worth noting the name of the agent in case it happens. They asked for passport details so be prepared. Taxes AUD67.20
Just had success booking one way J to NZ with VA using Etihad points for around Christmas. Called at around 0530 AEST. Don't think it was a Manchester based rep, but she was pleasant and persevered through a couple of false starts.
21800 points per person plus about $120 in taxes per person.