04 Dec

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says no extra pressure despite another Bledisloe Cup loss

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Still got the silverware: Kieran Read with the Bledisloe Cup. Photo: Anthony Au-YeungMichael Cheika says he does not feel any added personal pressure after a sixth consecutive loss, but has stressed the need for the Wallabies to build on their improved showing in Wellington.
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Allegations of eye-gouging, complaints about referees disrespecting players and clandestine meetings dominated discussion in the wake of the All Blacks’ 14th consecutive Bledisloe Cup triumph.

It doesn’t camouflage the fact the Wallabies are in a big hole that only they can dig themselves out of.

Cheika is in the midst of his biggest challenge as a coach since taking over in 2014 but says he is not feeling the heat despite the Wallabies being one loss away from equalling the mark of seven defeats in a row which led to the sacking of Eddie Jones in 2005.

“I haven’t felt any personal pressure on me,” Cheika said. “I’m not worried about that. Everyone’s doing their best, that’s something I really see from players as well. We’ve just got to be better, that’s the way it’s got to be and [we have to be] more clinical when the opportunities come.”

Despite another ugly scoreline, there were positives to take away from Wellington. There were fewer defensive lapses and Australia’s scrum is still solid, however, the problem is how to get all key components in order at the same time.

“You’ve just got to be more clinical.” Cheika said. “We’ve got to make sure we take the things that we thought we did well yesterday [Saturday] … and also get better at delivering on field with what we practice what we want to do.”

For all the pre-series barbs, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen spoke on Sunday about why it was important for rugby as a whole that the Wallabies got better quickly – something he genuinely wanted to see.

He acknowledged the Wallabies would be down and sympathised.

“You’ve got two fierce competitors, one of them’s going through a tough time,” Hansen said. “They’ve just lost six games in a row and I could only imagine what we’d be like if we were in that situation.

“If you get two brothers who are fiercely in battle and one of them’s getting a little bit of an upper hand, the other tends to not like it much. It’s just to be expected. Don’t read too much into it.”

As another year of Bledisloe rivalry finishes up – keep in mind there is a dead rubber in Auckland in October to go – one has to wonder just when the All Blacks’ streak will end.

According to Hansen, the prospect of ruining 14 years of glory was why New Zealand were able to once again rise to the challenge.

“I thought about it at the start of the process as to what it would feel like and I didn’t like the idea,” he said. “I mentioned it to a few people. They didn’t like that idea of it either, so that’s why they played as hard as they played. It’s inevitable one day someone is going to lose it for sure, I’m just hoping it’s not on my watch.”

Wallabies vice-captain Michael Hooper believes results will come, saying hard work has to pay off sooner than later, preferably in their next Test against South Africa on September 10.

“The scoreboard didn’t paint a great picture, but as far as intent of the guys at training, as far as intent of guys in the game, you can’t not build that sort of stuff and not get results at the back-end of the year,” Hooper said. “[It’s about] knowing that there’s going to be some good to come from this.”

All series Hansen has refrained from commenting specifically on the Wallabies but with another win under his belt he was relatively optimistic they could get back somewhere near their best with 10 Tests still remaining this year.

“Australian rugby is competing with other sports that might be just ahead of them at the moment from a fan point of view, so we want a strong southern hemisphere base for the game,” Hansen said.

“We want our closest neighbours to be really strong so they’ll come right though, I’m confident of that. They have got the players to be a very good side, so we’ll support them as best we can.”

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04 Dec

Doctors call for more GPs to provide abortion drug RU486

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Dr McNamee is one of about 1200 doctors trained to prescribe medical abortion drugs. Photo: Eddie JimDr Kathleen McNamee​ has thought a lot about what it means to be an “abortion doctor”.
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While the women’s health specialist has been referring patients for surgical terminations for many years without actually performing the procedure herself, last November she started prescribing abortion drugs to women so they could manage the process in a different way.

Before she started, the medical director at Family Planning Victoria had to organise hospital backup for women who experience complications, think about how the service would be advertised or not, and consider the risk of protesters because exclusion laws were not yet in place.

“I’ve been a little wary of telling people about it,” she said. “I feel perfectly comfortable with it, but I do worry if other people are going to feel comfortable with it.”

Dr McNamee is one of a small group of Australian doctors who have overcome the potential stigma associated with prescribing mifepristone​ (RU486) and misoprostol for women who want to terminate a pregnancy up to nine weeks gestation.

She and others now want other doctors to follow suit so more women can access the alternative to surgery which can be both expensive and difficult to find due to a shortage of doctors and hospitals willing to do it.

While the drugs were listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in 2013 to make them widely available, only 1244 doctors have become certified prescribers – a small proportion of the estimated 30,000 GPs and gynaecologists working in Australia.

The data from MS Health, which trains health professionals in how to use the drugs, also shows there are only 2715 dispensers out of about 29,000 pharmacists in Australia.

Despite a lack of routine data collection, researchers estimate one in four pregnancies – about 80,000 a year – end in terminations.

A recent study interviewed 19 health professionals providing abortion services in Victoria and found that they all thought doctors should consider prescribing the drugs to increase access, particularly for women living outside of big cities.

Associate Professor Louise Keogh​, of Melbourne University’s School of Population and Global Health, said the study participants felt that GPs could provide the drugs as long as they had good peer support to assist them, as well as relationships with local hospitals, pharmacists and ultrasound services.

A separate study that asked 15 providers about women’s experiences of the two options found that many women did not know the drugs were an option because they were not well publicised. Some of the providers also felt women had misconceptions about how they worked.

They found that women weighed up a lot of factors in making a decision about the two options, including the time taken for the procedure; the location and privacy they would be afforded; and the amount of support required.

Some women also perceived the physical risks of the two differently, as well as the emotional impact of either waking up from surgery with it done, or effectively experiencing a miscarriage over the course of a day or two. Both studies have been published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Dr McNamee said most women having a medical abortion (one with RU486) experienced about two to six hours of strong pain and bleeding, for which they’re given painkillers. It carries a one in 1000 risk of hemorrhaging that requires a blood transfusion; a one in 100 risk of infection; and a three in 100 risk of retaining products that requires follow-up surgery.

The risk of complications with a surgical termination are much lower, she said, and women tend to experience less pain compared to medical abortion.

Dr McNamee said while some women struggle with it emotionally, many also come back feeling very relieved.

Associate Professor Keogh said she hoped more organisations such as the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners would consider how they could support members to provide abortion services to their patients, and treat it just like any other essential component of healthcare.

Many women, particularly in rural areas, suffer because of a lack of access to abortion, she said. It can mean they have to travel four or five hours to reach a service, pay hundreds of dollars for private care, or face delays that mean they experience a termination later in pregnancy. Given medical abortion can only be taken up to nine weeks gestation, this can limit their choices.

“The college should be encouraging its fellows to consider the training,” Associate Professor Keogh said.

A college spokesman said they did not have a position statement on medical abortion, but that GPs were taught to be non-judgmental towards women seeking terminations and to be aware of legal issues, so they can provide patients with advice for an informed decision.

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04 Dec

Federal government’s budget finances a threat to Victoria’s top AAA credit rating

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Victrorian Treasurer Tim Pallas wants to persuade ratings agencies that ”we have revenue security of our own”. Photo: Josh RobenstoneThe parlous state of the federal budget could cost Victoria its coveted AAA credit rating.
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Top ratings agency Standard & Poors has warned there is a one-in-three chance the state’s rating could be downgraded – potentially raising the interest bill on public borrowing needed to pay for big road and rail projects.

In a report to investors issued last week, S&P said Victoria’s economic and financial health remained “very strong”, with “exceptional liquidity” and moderate debt.

But the glowing assessment could be irrelevant if the Commonwealth fails to rein in its spending and bring debt down.

The report says Victoria’s budget remains critically reliant on the Commonwealth, with 40 per cent of the state’s revenue flowing from Canberra, mostly from GST.

This, it says, would make it impossible for any state to be more creditworthy than the Commonwealth if things turned ugly.

“We don’t consider that any state or territory in Australia, including Victoria, can maintain stronger credit characteristics than the sovereign in a stress scenario,” the report says.

Maintaining the AAA rating remains an article of faith for the Andrews government. The rating was last lost in 1992, in a crippling blow to the Kirner government during the last recession. It was regained six years later in 1998 during the Kennett years, and has remained ever since.

As a result of the downgrade threat, the state government will argue that the GST should be regarded as a state rather than a federal tax – mirroring a controversial argument made by former federal treasurer Peter Costello when the GST was introduced in 2001.

The assessment follows a warning last week from federal Treasury secretary John Fraser that the nation cannot continue to pay for its ongoing spending by lifting debt.

“That would leave us increasingly exposed to international shocks, erode into … intergenerational equity and increase borrowing costs that could reduce our long-run growth potential,” he said.

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison also last week issued a dire warning that Australia could face a trillion-dollar debt burden over the next decade, plunging the economy into recession and triggering the loss of the rating.

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said Victoria would attempt to convince the ratings agencies that “we have revenue security of our own”. He said Victoria was the standout economy in the nation, with a strong budget position, strong employment growth, strong consumer confidence and strong construction activity.

He also reiterated a plan to lift debt back to 6 per cent of the state economy to free up an extra $16 billion to spend on infrastructure.

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07 Jul

For Star Entertainment Group, sometimes the house doesn’t win enough

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Casino numbers are up in Sydney and the Gold Coast, recovering from softness during the federal election, Star Entertainment Group says Photo: Peter MorrisThe iron-clad rule of gambling is that the house always wins. But for Star Entertainment Group, sometimes the house doesn’t win enough.
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Its win rate historically averages 1.35 per cent on its international VIP business, with anything better than 1 per cent leaving the house ahead.

Since 2014, the win rate on this business, which comes mostly from Asia, has been below 1.35 per cent, falling to 0.88 in the second half of 2015 before rebounding to 1.5 per cent this year.

“In the first half, we were exceptionally unlucky,” the chief executive Matt Bekier​ said. “It was a less than 1 per cent probability to end up at that rate. And 1.5 per cent is above the expectation but it didn’t compensate” for the full extent of the losses.

The renewed strength of the international VIP business saw the debts of gamblers who leave its tables owing the house money rise to $33 million by the end of June from $17 million a year earlier, prompting it to double the level of impaired debt to $11.5 million, although much of this was incurred late in the year and has since been recouped, Mr Bekier said.

Earlier this decade, wealth creation in Asia was so strong that the number of millionaires being created was running at 40 per cent a year, the Star Group boss said. That has slowed to around 5-10 per cent, which means it is unlikely that the group will need to expand its Bombardier aircraft fleet to bring in the ‘big whales’, as big time gamblers are called within the industry.

“We’re seeing more players but with smaller amounts, not the super-whales, so they could come in flying first class especially as flights into China improve,” he said.

The international VIP business involves paying rebates to junket operators who introduce these players to the casino. To help remove the volatility of this business, Star is establishing its own direct sales presence in South-East Asia, which could also help lower costs.

“The challenge is loading up with creditworthy visitors,” Mr Bekier​, said on Friday.

Another target is to encourage more Chinese tourists to visit its casinos.

“Only around 3 per cent of revenue comes from tourists,” Mr Bekier said. “A surprisingly large number of Chinese tourists – around 25 per cent – find their way into our properties. But we can’t get them to stay on our properties. Therefore we need  more rooms to get them to stay.

“We’re just a side trip. Therefore we need to work with the relevant tour operator on how to maximise that.”

The group is finalising around a $3 billion spending program on additional hotel and apartment room capacity in Sydney, the Gold Coast and Brisbane, along with upgrades to its gaming floors, in part to also prepare for tougher competition from James Packer’s Barangaroo casino, which will be competing particularly at the premium end of the market in Sydney.

“The main rooms bring people in – you then want to tier people up,” Mr Bekier said, by developing more differentiated offerings for gamblers. “We can’t do that in Queensland.”

“Sydney has more tables/VIPs, which are lower margins than slots,” he said, which has meant that the underlying profitability of its Queensland casinos is higher. The upgrades there should help it to bring in more international VIP gamblers to those casinos.

The strength of its international VIP business saw revenues rise 7.2 per cent in the year to June, eclipsing the 6.8 per cent growth in domestic gaming revenues to leave group revenue ahead 6 per cent at $2.4 billion.

Revenue growth, with cost control, saw the group lift the net profit in the year to June 30 by 15 per cent to $194.4 million. Earnings per share reached 23.6¢, up from 20.5¢, running well ahead of the 4.4 per cent rise in revenue to $2.4 billion for the year.

The final dividend has been raised to 7.5¢ from 6¢, as part of the earnings uplift has been shared with shareholders.

The margin performance of the group’s Brisbane and Gold Coast casinos outstripped the Star City casino, but th Sydney casino drives group earnings. However weak consumer confidence late in the year hurt group operations.

“May-June was relatively soft due to macro factors – Brexit and the long election campaign, which impacted consumer confidence. That trend has not continued – we’re back into pretty solid growth,” Mr Bekier said.

In Sydney, Star Casino held its share of the market steady, it said, amid a sharper offering from rivals for the gambling dollar.

“Reflecting more strenuous competition – clubs and pubs upped their business, there are more pokies management businesses out there,” he said, with the focus now on a relaunch of its loyalty program later this year.

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07 Jul

It’s a crime spree as Emma Viskic snaffles four writing awards

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Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic. Photo: Supplied Crime writer Emma Viskic will be awarded two Davitt awards and a Ned Kelly award over this coming weekend. 26th August 2016. Photo by Jason South
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Emma Viskic has been on a weekend spree, a crime spree. Her debut novel, Resurrection Bay, not only won three “Davitts” at the Sisters in Crime’s awards on Saturday, but followed that up with a “Ned Kelly” on Sunday from the Australian Crime Writers Association.

Viskic won the Davitt (named after Ellen Davitt, writer of Australia’s first murder novel) for best novel, the best debut award (shared with Fleur Ferris’ Risk), and the readers’ choice award, while she won the Ned for best debut novel.

The awards represented multiple endorsements for a crucial creative decision she made after she had finished the first draft of the book that begins with her hero, Caleb Zelic, cradling the dead body of his best friend.

She figured something wasn’t working with Zelic. He seemed the sort of character who had appeared in several earlier stories and she recognised him as something of an outsider. The question was why. Then she recognised some of his traits and quirks from a profoundly deaf girl she had known. That was it; her hero was deaf.

But writing a deaf character did not appeal. “I am a classical musician [Viskic has played the clarinet for the likes of Melbourne Opera and the Australian Pops Orchestra] so sound is the way I approach writing. A lot of people do the visual first, but I do dialogue and my early drafts are like a script. Also for the technical reason of how do I make this work, and the third reason was that I was really nervous about writing a caricature, a tokenistic character.”

So Viskic had to retrospectively research her character’s deafness and that involved learning Auslan. “He had to use Auslan with the people he loves because it’s a way of him being comfortable and showing his relationships. That was a huge boon to me as a writer and wonderful to be introduced to this whole other world I barely knew existed.”

She’s not exactly fluent: “One of the characters, his ex-cop friend Frankie, probably has the same level of Auslan as me. She is unintentionally funny at times. I can hold a conversation – like a child.”

If Viskic’s success at the Davitts represents the emergence of a significant new Australian crime-writing talent, winning the Ned for best novel for Before it Breaks represents a return to the fold for Dave Warner. The last of his six previous crime novels, eXXXpresso,  appeared in 2000 since when the writer and musician has been working for the big and small screens.

“If you’re doing feature films you can still find time to do novel writing, but with TV it was not possible; it’s such an all-consuming beast. I had three years when I plotted virtually every episode of Rescue Special Ops and it’s really draining.”

But for one reason or another the television work dried up and Warner could return to crime fiction and making music – his band the Suburbs is recording its first album in 35 years – the two thing he loves most.

He said going back to fiction was as if he’d been playing badminton and someone had called him in to play tennis on a grass court.

“Three years on with no money changes the idea somewhat about what is a great idea or not. But it has freed me up again to pursue things much more creatively.”

Gideon Haigh, better known for his many books about cricket, won the non-fiction Ned for his true-crime book, Certain Admissions. Alecia Simmonds won the non-fiction Davitt for Wildman.

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07 Jul

Bledisloe Cup 2016: Wallabies have legitimate grievances but plenty of problems

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Balancing act: Michael Cheika. Photo: Jason McCawley Owen Franks appears to gouge Kane Douglas.
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The Wallabies had 12 hours after the second Bledisloe Cup Test to refer to the citing commissioner Owen Franks’ apparent eye gouge on Kane Douglas.

That they did not is the irony of Saturday’s nasty post-match sideshow.

Behind the scenes Michael Cheika cultivates a no-blame culture. He wants his team to take responsibility for their performances. He leads the way by taking responsibility for his own, commenting two weeks in a row that he let the team down with elements of his preparation and coaching.

So team management did not refer the Franks incident to the citing commissioner, trusting that an act as deliberate as Franks’ scrape over Douglas’ eyes would be picked up and acted upon. It was not, presumably because the commissioner did not deem it serious enough to meet the required red card threshold.

On that issue, Cheika paid the price for his silence, while on the issue of Romain Poite’s refereeing, he paid the price for speaking out.

It appears the Australian coach went off half-cocked on a supposed meeting between Poite and New Zealand coach Steve Hansen last week, as Hansen denies such a meeting took place. Hansen did, however, admit he had a chat with assistant referee Jaco Peyper, convened at Peyper’s request, to “review some of the stuff that he had seen in our game”.

The relevant World Rugby regulation refers only to “the referee” in its stipulation that both teams should be given the opportunity to meet with a match official before a Test match. Peyper was the head honcho in the first Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney but an assistant in Wellington, so Hansen did not contravene the letter of the regulations. The spirit of them, however, which is surely to guard against bias or its perception, has taken a hit.

If New Zealand are given the benefit of the doubt and their on-field superiority, Poite’s persistent shooing away of Australian captain Stephen Moore and his parallel willingness to hear complaints from New Zealand captain Kieran Read and a selection of other players suggest the Wallabies have a huge perception problem among match officials. That is for them to turn around.

Now to the real issue. The big, deep, dark hole in which the Wallabies find themselves.

Six losses on the trot and two Bledisloe Cup blow-outs are hard to take for fans, players and coaches alike. It is difficult to watch your team be monstered by a far better opponent. It must be harder still to put your body and your pride on the line week after week and get no reward, which is what life as a Wallaby is at the moment.

But this is not an irretrievable situation. Australia are blessed with skilled, tenacious rugby players and a suite of very good coaches.

That group orchestrated one of the most impressive World Cup campaigns in recent memory. Latterly that campaign has been characterised as an over-achievement relative to the Wallabies’ capacities. There is some truth in that and Hansen reminded everyone on Sunday that the Wallabies, too, have benefited at key times – try a World Cup quarter final against Scotland – from the rub of the green. But there is truth, too, in the Wallabies’ blood, sweat and tears, which also propelled them to the final.

Things are not going right for them 10 months later, but there is no evidence to suggest they are blind to their problems or avoiding tough decisions, with the possible exception of the lineout malaise.

The Wallabies should not sulk or complain about negativity. Their fans, former players and the media piled on the praise when it was warranted and earned.

As Australians are wont to do, the Wallabies must pick themselves up and keep going. Slowly, imperceptibly at first, they will turn things around.

Twitter:@geerob

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07 Jul

Melbourne Cup 2016: Andreas Wohler bringing Articus and Red Cardinal for spring, with Protectionist still a chance

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Return?: Jockey Craig Williams with Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist. Photo: Vince CaligiuriThe spring team of Australian Bloodstock’s Jamie Lovett may yet include Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist, as Andreas Wohler begins to prepare Articus and Red Cardinal for Australian campaigns.
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The Melbourne Cup-winning trainer will target the Caulfield Cup and Mackinnon Stakes with Articus, a group 2 winner in Germany, while Red Cardinal will come out to Australia attempting to earn a spot in the Melbourne Cup.

Australian Bloodstock completed purchasing the pair in recent times and Wohler, who is their main European trainer, is confident they will adapt to Australian racing and has booked them on the first shipment of horses to come for the spring.

“Articus ran fifth in a group 1 in Germany last start and we bought him after that and he has moved to Andreas’ stable,” Lovett said. “He believes that Articus will be the perfect Caulfield Cup horse and would love the pressure of the race and the circuit.

“With the Mackinnon being three weeks after it, he will target it as well, being a group 2 winner at 2100m.

“He will go into quarantine with Red Cardinal, which we bought before his third in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes. He is a lightweight Melbourne Cup chance. He would probably have to win a race like the Moonee Valley Cup or Geelong Cup to get a run in the Cup.

“They will both be on the first shipment of horses. We would have liked to run Red Cardinal in the Herbert Power Handicap but the way it is structured this year they don’t get out of quarantine until Caulfield Cup eve.”

Lovett also hinted that 2014 Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist could return to Australia if he doesn’t look like being a leading contender in the Arc de Triomphe.

“He is going to have another run next month in France in an Arc lead-up, our intention is to run in the Arc but if he doesn’t live up to expectations, the Melbourne Cup is still an option,” Lovett said.

“He has shown us enough by winning that group 1 in Germany he is worth a crack at an Arc and it would be a dream for us to have a runner in the biggest race in Europe.”

The first shipment of horses for the spring will include Royal Ascot winner Kinema, Scottish and Tryster, Godolphin’s Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate contenders, and several from Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle yard.

Racing Victoria’s international recruiter Leigh Jordon is hopeful Highland Reel, which was third to Winx in the Cox Plate last year and has since won the Hong Kong International Vase and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth might return.

O’Brien has the early Melbourne Cup favourite in Order Of St George, in which Lloyd Williams shares in the ownership, but a decision on whether he will head down to Australia will be made after the Irish St Leger.

“Aidan is still working out what he will be bringing but we expect him to have at least three on the first plane,” Jordon said. “He has plenty of options. There is a French stayer called Erupt, which could come out for the Caulfield and Melbourne cups.”

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07 Jul

Rio Olympics 2016: Nathan Hart says Games were ‘awesome’ despite heartbreaking medal miss

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Nathan Hart, right, says Rio was not as disastrous as reported. Photo: David RamosCanberra track cyclist and Rio Olympian Nathan Hart says the Games were “awesome to me” and not the disaster that has been portrayed in the media.
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The Olympic hangover has started after the well-documented failings in attendance, security and facilities, but Hart argues differently.

He went agonisingly close to claiming a bronze medal but the sprint team of Hart, Patrick Constable and Matthew Glaetzer missed by just 0.15 seconds against France.

“In my experience I don’t think it was as bad as the media made it out to be. I thought it was pretty good,” the 23-year-old said.

“Especially safety concerns, that was probably the biggest thing people in Australia were concerned about but I thought it was fine.”

Hart’s experience is a refreshing perspective that has been muffled by stories of chaos before, during and after the Games.

In particular, the venue construction received plenty of criticism but the cycling velodrome was of international standard despite being one of the last venues to be completed.

“The track I was really impressed with,” Hart said. “I think that was the last venue to be finished, the velodrome.

“We [the sprint team] got there early, just under two weeks before racing and it was a bit dusty, they were still doing a little bit of work.

“But the next time we were on the track it had been all sorted and especially when race day came around it was really good.”

Hart is back in Canberra and already back in the saddle after buying a mountain bike.

When asked if the 0.15 second margin between the Australian sprint team and a medal hurts, Hart laughed.

“A little bit actually. I’ve watched the race since coming back to Canberra and it’s disappointing but I know for a fact that three of us did everything in our power to be in the best position to win.

“That’s part of it, it keeps me hungry to train hard and try to get results later on down the track.”

Despite missing a medal, Hart walked away with a new personal best in the qualification races with a time of 17.15 seconds.

“It’s about a tenth [of a second] quicker than I’ve ever gone before which I was pretty happy with,” Hart said.

“It was good to know I turned up to Rio in the best form I’ve ever been in.”

Great Britain won gold in the event with New Zealand taking silver, France bronze and Australia fourth.

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07 Jun

Sri Lankan great Mahela Jayawardene joins criticism of Steve Smith’s ‘rest’

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Former Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene has joined the criticism of Australia’s decision to rest Steve Smith for the remaining three one-day internationals and two Twenty20 matches in Sri Lanka.
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Smith, the Australian skipper and key batsman in the three formats, has been sent home to enjoy time off before a short one-day series in South Africa and then a busy home campaign, capped off with a four-Test tour of India from March.

While chief selector Rod Marsh and coach/selector Darren Lehmann have moved to justify the call, Michael Clarke, Shane Warne, Michael Slater and now Jayawardene have questioned it.

“Surprised to see Smith going back home to prepare for SA tour when this one is not finished. Would any other @CricketAus captain done this?” Jayawardene tweeted.

Smith had led his side in a short one-day series in the Caribbean, leading into the Sri Lankan tour. The South African tour begins with a one-off clash against Ireland on September 27.

Resting or rotating Australia’s more marketable players during a home summer has often been a contentious point, with host broadcaster Channel Nine having expressed fears ratings would be impacted.

Lehmann said he did not have an issue with the comments made by Clarke, Warne and Slater.

“We respect our former captains and former greats having an opinion. There is no dramas about it and they’re entitled to it. But we think it’s the best for Steven to get him right and ready to go,” Lehmann said.

“It’s hard captaining in all three formats and we are just making sure he gets a break.”

With Smith gone, vice-captain David Warner will become the 23rd man to lead Australia when the tied series resumes in Dambulla on Sunday. Surprised to see smith going back home to prepare for SA tour when this one is not finished. Would any other @CricketAus captain done this?— Mahela Jayawardena (@MahelaJay) 25 August 2016

Australia will hope a refreshed Smith can help overcome their troubles on the sub-continent and a testing summer at home which threatens to hit the players’ in the hip pocket.

Having been ranked the No.1 Test side by this year’s April 1 cut-off, the Australians enjoyed bonuses from Cricket Australia and an added $1 million from the International Cricket Council, when presented with the championship mace on the eve of the Sri Lankan series. But a losing 3-0 series there has led to Smith’s team dropping to No.3 on the ICC rankings.

Under the memorandum of understanding signed in 2012, the Australians are entitled to CA bonuses only if they have a top-two ranking. That is also the case in the one-day international and Twenty20 formats.

That Australia (108 points) narrowly sit behind India (110) and the freshly crowned Pakistan (111 points) means they have a chance to quickly vault up the Test rankings but Pakistan and South Africa shape as significant challenges this summer, even though the Proteas have slipped to seventh. A potentially rugged tour of India then awaits, which could again dampen hopes of a return to a top-two ranking.

Players are also entitled to bonuses for Test and series victories but none were forthcoming in Sri Lanka – and major improvement will be needed in India if things are to change there.

The Australians remain well rewarded financially in terms of base contracts and match payments, with players pocketing a fixed percentage of between 24.5 and 27 per cent of annual revenue depending on performance. This could mean that should there be two losing series on the sub-continent within an eight-month period – an area CA has targeted for improvement – then overall pay when the next round of contracts are debated next year could be closer to 25 per cent, as the 2011 Argus report suggested.

The fixed revenue scheme, established amid much agitation in 1997-98 under then players chief Tim May and Australian Cricket Board chief Mal Speed, appears under threat heading into a new round of discussions over a memorandum of understanding.

CA has not publicly detailed its stance ahead of discussions, officially beginning on October 1, but players believe the governing body is after change. Kevin Roberts, a former board member turned administrator, will lead CA’s negotiations.

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07 Jun

Katy Perry describes attack on Leslie Jones as ‘misogynoir’, internet loses it

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Leslie Jones, who temporarily left Twitter last month after being targeted by torrents of vile abuse, has been attacked on social media again. Photo: Michael Tran Leslie Jones, who temporarily left Twitter last month after being targeted by torrents of vile abuse, has been attacked on social media again. Photo: Michael Tran
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Katy Perry as a mainstream proponent of intersectional feminism? Sure, okay.

The pop star surprised the internet overnight when, while voicing her support for Leslie Jones in the wake of the comedian’s latest brush with online trolls, she described the attack as “misogynoir”.

The term, largely unknown outside of intersectional feminist circles (that Wikipedia page is taking a beating today), was coined by queer black feminist Moya Bailey in 2010, and further articulated by Trudy of the blog Gradient Lair, to describe the combined racist and sexist marginalisation experienced by black women. Do not give your eyeballs to this racist, hate-filled, misogynoir crime. I #StandWithLeslie ❤️— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) August 24, 2016

“Do not give your eyeballs to this racist, hate-filled, misogynoir crime. I #StandWithLeslie,” Perry wrote on Twitter, nearly breaking the internet.

While many celebrated the word being shared with her hopefully inquisitive 92.1 million followers, others mocked the idea of a white woman being praised for echoing a term black women have been using for years. Katy Perry used the term misogynoir. Wow. https://t杭州/viSEPa805o— Imani Gandy (@AngryBlackLady) August 24, 2016Y’all. When a major pop star uses Misogynoir, you know the game is changing. This is major. https://t杭州/m4fxtfikSd— kylie sparks (@kyliesparks) August 24, 2016bruh who taught katy perry “misogynoir”— Deaux (@dstfelix) August 24, 2016BW: we experience misogynistic racism aka misogynoir wh*te media: WW: misogynoir is bad wh*te media: WOW, GROUD BREAKING! NEW! SO AMAZING!— black history heaux (@localblactivist) August 25, 2016

Numerous celebrities, including Kerry Washington, Lena Dunham and Ghostbusters director Paul Feig, have rallied in support of Jones, whose website was attacked on Wednesday, with hackers exposing the actress’s private information, including nude pictures and personal documents.

It follows a similar attack last month which saw Jones temporarily leave Twitter, after trolls littered her account with racist and sexist abuse. What’s happening to @Lesdoggg is an absolute outrage. Alt right, haters, trolls, “comedians,” whoever the fuck you all are, you’re just sad.— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) August 24, 2016Wow. Yet another example: HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE. Intolerable trolling. So much ignorance & hate. I stand with #LeslieJones#LoveforLeslieJ— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) July 20, 2016Let’s turn our anger at trolls into love for Leslie Jones and into strategies to protect all the heroines who don’t deserve this bullshit— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) August 24, 2016I truly don’t know why people are so hateful towards @Lesdoggg. Why? She’s talented and wonderful. Why are people so pressed to be awful?— Gabby SidiBae (@GabbySidibe) August 24, 2016This @Lesdoggg attack is troubling. The rampant racism percolating in society right now is shameful and sad. She made a movie, that’s it!— octavia spencer (@octaviaspencer) August 24, 2016I was terrified when I did SNL. Leslie Jones went out of her way to be open, warm, friendly, funny all week. She is a GEM.— Anna Kendrick (@AnnaKendrick47) August 25, 2016these acts against leslie jones….are sickening. its racist & sexist. it’s disgusting. this is hate crimes. this aint “kids joshing round”— Questlove Gomez (@questlove) August 24, 2016

Jones, quite understandably, has yet to publicly comment on the hack. During last month’s attack, she called on her followers to drown out the torrent of abuse from haters.

“Stop letting the ignorant people be the loud ones,” she wrote on Twitter. “I got more love than hate, but they louder. F— that. Be louder.”

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07 Jun

Lamborghinis, Lebanese drummers, lip work: the lavish wedding of Salim Mehajer’s sister Kat

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Lavish: Kat Mehajer marries Ibraham Sakalaki at Longuevue Mansion. Photo: Andrew Murray Dancers at Kat Mehajer’s nuptials. Photo: Andrew Murray
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A guest arrives for the wedding at Longuevue Mansion in a flash car. Photo: Andrew Murray

Kat Mehajer in a pre-wedding picture. Photo: Instagram

A flash motorcade arrives for the wedding of Kat Mehajer.

Salim Mehajer dances at the nuptials of his sister Kat and Ibraham Sakalaki at the ceremony. Photo: Andrew Murray

Billed as Sydney’s “next big wedding” after her brother’s infamous and apparently doomed 2015 ceremony, the 2016 version of Mehajer marital bliss did not disappoint.

Khadijeh “Kat” Mehajer, younger sister to former Auburn deputy mayor Salim, and her new husband, Ibraham Sakalaki, dazzled suburban Sydney on Saturday with their lavish nuptials.

Held at Longuevue Mansion in Kenthurst, about 40 kilometres north-west of Sydney’s CBD, the ceremony was an extravaganza of Lamborghinis, Lebanese drummers, and lip work.

Despite being denied a request to close a street for the wedding, the event still managed to stop traffic, with police blocking off streets and accompanying the groom, Mr Sakalaki, and his massive convoy of sports cars and motorbike riders wearing “Mehajer Bros” outfits to the allegedly-secret and apparently last-minute location.

A police helicopter hovered over the sprawling six acre block that bills itself as “the ideal escape for a luxurious holiday or that 6 star special event” as Mr Sakalaki arrived in a white Lamborghini.

Resplendent in white suit, he gave a peace sign to the assembled media as he entered.

He followed by Mr Mehajer, who was dateless, and still wearing a wedding ring despite his much publicised break-up with wife Aysha.

If Mr Mehajer was feeling the weight of the on-going scandals that have made him famous, he managed to put on a brave face for his little sister’s nuptials.

The bad boy of local politics, and aspirant “state, federal … very top spot” politician remained impassive as news cameras swamped him on arrival, and was front and centre dancing with Ms Mehajer and Mr Sakalaki.

Norma Needham, the owner of Longuevue, ruffled some feathers. Arriving before the wedding party on Saturday morning, she demanded that cars be moved off the street, and at one point yelled into a phone about the scale of the event.

Later though, she appeared to change her tune. After scrubbing the white carpet laid out for the bride and groom’s arrival, she joined the revellers in dancing during the ceremony.

Despite some neighbours complaining they had been told the event would be “small scale”, Ms Needham insisted she “didn’t have to” apply for council permission to hold “a little get together here with people that I enjoy”, and said it “wasn’t anyone’s business anyway”.

After the ceremony, Mehajer guests chanted “Norma, Norma, Norma” when she told the assembled media what she thought of them.

The venue of the wedding was a tightly-held secret in the lead-up to the event.

While more than one news organisation managed to wrangle what will no doubt be dubbed “exclusive” access, others waited outside the estate to get a glimpse of the party.

Sam Khizkail, who organised the doves for the wedding  – two released during the ceremony, another four “show dancing doves” – had been told the ceremony was in Lidcombe before receiving a text from Ms Mehajer on Thursday.

“My wedding location has been changed,” she told him.

Among the stellar wedding guests was Hollywood actress and model Olivia Culpo, who is famous for winning the Miss USA 2012 pageant.

At 6pm, the wedding guests regrouped at Doltone House’s Hyde Park venue on Elizabeth Street for a reception. Lingering media crews were left hanging with the bridal party who were nowhere to be seen, having presumably arrived earlier or by an alternative entry.

The family’s enigmatic media statement hinted at cheeky decoy addresses and information to deter uninvited guests.

The cloak of darkness extended to the wedding’s reception. Despite the Mehajer family tagging photos with the wedding’s hashtag, #IKS2016, on Instagram since February, the couple’s reception was celebrated in a social media blackout with guests banned from using their phones upon entry.

Still, the arrival of guests to the luxury venue provided momentary interest to passersby as luxury cars played cat and mouse with buses stopping outside. Fur jackets and bejewelled evening dresses, including the bride’s shimmering Steven Khalil gown, were the outfit du jour.

The guests either feigned ignorance of the night’s proceedings or were similarly kept in the dark. One woman in a stunning lace Jovani dress smiled and said, “I just know it will be so nice.”

Ibraham Sakalaki and Khadijeh Mehajer exchanged Islamic vows at an intimate gathering the previous weekend.

Additional reporting by Phoebe Maloney

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07 Jun

Christian Dior slammed for running Johnny Depp Sauvage campaign in Australia

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Commuters walk past the Dior Sauvage advertisement featuring Johnny Depp outside David Jones’ Sydney CBD store. Photo: Dominic LorrimerChristian Dior is under fire in Australia for an advertising campaign fronted by Johnny Depp.
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Billboards, store fronts and bus stops around Sydney and Melbourne are covered in images of Depp emblazoned with the word “Sauvage”, a French term meaning “wild”.

The Pirates of the Caribbean star was announced as the face of Sauvage last year, Dior’s first fragrance for men in 10 years.

The renewed push of the Sauvage campaign comes just days after Depp and Amber Heard settled their contentious divorce amid allegations of domestic violence. Heard claimed Depp repeatedly abused her during their 18-month marriage, before withdrawing the claims.

They reached a $9 million agreement, funds that Heard has since donated to the  American Civil Liberties Union to helps its efforts in combating violence against women.

Dior’s ongoing relationship with Depp has angered Australian consumers and “a couple of complaints” about the Sauvage ad have been submitted to the Advertising Standard Bureau, ASB chief Fiona Jolly said.

Ms Jolly wouldn’t specify the exact nature of the compliants, saying: “They centre around the use of the actor in the advertisements.”

A Dior representative refused to comment when approached by Fairfax Media about the commercial’s timing.

“Parfums Christian Dior does not wish to comment on the personal matters of Ms Heard and Mr Depp. It is our understanding that the matter has been settled,” a Dior spokesperson said.

David Jones has featured the commercial outside its menswear store on Market Street.

“These are part of a national campaign Dior launched this week for its men’s fragrance Sauvage,” a David Jones spokesperson said on Friday.

The advertisement was also published in the latest issue of the AFR magazine, owned by Fairfax Media, publisher of The Sun-Herald.

Dr Andrew Hughes, lecturer in marketing at the Australian National University’s Research School of Management, criticised the continued use of Depp in the campaign, saying: “It looks cheap. It looks like they don’t care about the market. With this advertisement Dior are essentially saying ‘I’m out of touch’. We live in the age of social media where recall is only one click away so even people who aren’t aware of the claims would be able to find out what they are.”

Heard filed for divorce in May before obtaining a restraining order accusing Depp of hitting her, sparking a media frenzy and extensive, worldwide coverage.

Heard withdrew the claims after a video of Depp yelling at her and images of a mirror allegedly covered in Depp’s blood after he cut off the tip of his finger during a domestic dispute, were made public.

After their settlement, Depp and Heard released a joint statement acknowledging the volatility of their relationship.

“Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love … There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm,” the statement said.

The only positive to the Dior campaign, according to Dr Hughes, is that the issue of domestic violence is back in the headlines. “It’s relevant now around Father’s Day and with specific messages to men about how certain actions can have a huge negative impact.”

This isn’t the first international controversy Dior has faced.

In 2011, following a racist and anti-Semitic tirade that was filmed, creative director John Galliano was stood down after the fashion house faced international condemnation.

Family Violence Counselling Service 1800 RESPECT: 1800 737 732; Men’s Referral Service: 1300 766 491

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07 Jun

Anna Heinrich tells of life with The Bachelor and all that marriage pressure

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The Bachelor Australia winner Anna Heinrich (left) with Kate Waterhouse. Heinrich keeps her media role separate from her career as a lawyer. Photo: Kate Geraghty Anna Heinrich (left) with Kate Waterhouse at Wild Basket in Neutral Bay. Photo: Kate Geraghty
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Anna Heinrich makes a splash with Tim Robards at Derby Day Fashions on the Field at Flemington Racecourse. Photo: Simon Schluter

Anna Heinrich found fame when she stole the heart of Tim Robards in the first season of TV’s The Bachelor Australia in 2013. Fast forward three years and the couple are still going strong and have since become one of Australia’s most recognised couples. When Heinrich, 29, isn’t attending A-list events she works part-time as a criminal lawyer and is the blogger behind Love Always Anna. She tells Kate Waterhouse about how The Bachelor has changed her life, the pressures on her relationship and how she copes with media attention.

What is a day in your life? It really depends on the day… I’m still working as a [criminal] lawyer. I’m in there every week, and my boss has been so good to me for the past three or four years. I like keeping my foot in that door. I’ve [also] been working with Nike for about almost eight months now. When I first started, I did their Training Club Tour, a big all-women event … I’m also working with Pandora and Oral B and I’m busy working on my blog.

You were the first girl to win The Bachelor Australia. How has that impacted your life? I don’t think I ever knew how it would change my life… [Tim] is my first boyfriend and it has almost been three years…I’m also doing a lot of media-related things that I never thought I would ever do.

What do you love most about Tim? I actually love everything about him. I know it sounds so cliche, but I love his determination. He is very open with everything … He is very good looking, too!

Should we expect a marriage proposal anytime soon? I’m definitely not engaged at the moment [laughs] but I think it will come. There has been that pressure ever since we got together.

Does being in the media spotlight put pressure on your relationship? It does, but I’m not going to let it affect our relationship. We know it’s always going to be there, but I think what’s really good about us is we haven’t just gotten married for everybody else. We’re doing it in our own time and when it happens, it’s as real as anyone else’s marriage.

Is there pressure to get married? We know it’s all there and we know everyone is constantly watching and waiting, but I think that’s what I love about him so much, that he hasn’t sort of succumbed to the whole pressure. For us, it’s about getting to know each other and that’s exactly what we’re doing, we love each other’s company and it’s not so much about, “Let’s get married straight away to please other people”.

Is it strange to have the public know your intimate details of your love life? I don’t tell everybody everything, but we do feel somewhat of responsibility to share as much as we can with people because they’ve grown with us from the beginning.

After the show and when you officially began dating, there was speculation of the authenticity of your relationship. Have those rumours been put to rest now? Yes, there are rumours about us probably every couple of weeks – either that we’ve broken up or there is some problem. But whenever it is, it’s always other people; I think they just find that an interesting story.

The Bachelor is currently airing its fourth season. Who do you think will win? It’s too hard to call at this stage as there are so many amazing women still left in the house. I’ll leave this one up to Richie [Strahan]!

What would be your advice to someone going into the show? Be prepared, and I think knowing that it’s not always what you expect. It’s very different from what people see on TV … You do an hour or two-hour interview and they may not even use that interview, or if they do, it’s basically one line. So be prepared, and go in it for the right reasons. I think being the first [season], we didn’t know what to expect. I was doing law at the time [and] thinking it was going to be more of a hindrance … Go in to it because you want to [fall in love with] someone and hope that you do in the end.

Tell me about your blog. My blog is called Love Always Anna. Initially I wanted it to be a lifestyle blog [but] I’m now focusing more on fashion and beauty.

What do you love about having a blog? It has been a great way for me to share more positive and personal insights into my life. I was surprised how quickly it connected with my readers and I love receiving their comments about my recipes, travels and tips. I’ve started focusing more on fashion and styling to make it a place where readers can come to for inspiration. It is a case of “watch this space”, I guess!

What is your role within your law firm? I’m pretty much everything. I’m a lawyer, I’m the bookkeeper, I’m admin. I do it all when I’m in there. I do go into court in certain trials.

Do people recognise you from The Bachelor during court trials? There has been [an] occasion where I was in court and I turned around and this woman was being like “I love you” to me and I didn’t know if it was me or who she was looking at. I kept turning around and then I was like, “me?” and she is like, “I love you”. I was like, “This is the most awkward situation I’ve had in the court.” I do my best to kind of keep both separate – my legal career and my media career. There is no way they’re not going to overlap, but I try and keep it as separate. So I’ve got to make sure I uphold a good image and that doesn’t jeopardise my legal career because I’m still doing it.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? I hope that I’m still doing what I’m doing. I love having this balance of still doing law and also my media career.

What do you do in your spare time, when you’re not working? We love to travel, if we can go away for a weekend, whether it is within Australia or somewhere international. We love to even go to Bali for like three days. We’re both into sports. So we’ll be out training … playing tennis with the family. I’ll be hanging with my family a lot. Go over to my mum’s house for “Jude’s food”; get everyone over for dinner.Katewaterhouse杭州m   BITE SIZE

WE WENT TO Wild Basket, Neutral Bay

WE DRANK  Peppermint tea and a cappuccino

ANNA WORE Rebecca Vallance dress, Stanzee leather jacket, Pandora jewellery

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