Archive for December, 2018
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.

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”.

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.

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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04 Dec

Spring price growth looks perfect for Sydney’s property sellers

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A large five-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Lilyfield could be in huge demand.This spring, everything is coming up roses for those planning to sell their homes. A shortage of property on the market plus strong buyer demand – fuelled by record low interest rates and population growth – continue to drive up prices in most areas.

“It’s just a great market for sellers,” says Mathew Tiller, head of research at LJ Hooker. “Listing figures are down from last year and we’ll see a little bit more price growth than was expected because of the uneven supply and demand.

“We will see some more people put their houses on the market for spring but compared with the last few years, that number will definitely be down as some of those considering upsizing or downsizing don’t see anywhere to move into.”

A measure of the strength of current demand lies in the last two weekends’ record clearance rates of 84.1 and 82.8 per cent respectively. The contrasting lack of supply can be seen in the numbers of listings, down in all parts of Sydney in the first seven months of this year compared with the same period last year, and slumping by up to a 24.4 per cent on the Northern Beaches.

“There are significantly fewer properties on the market this year and the Sydney market will struggle to get those 1000-auction weekends we had last year,” says Domain Group chief economist Dr Andrew Wilson. “It’s good for sellers but it does lead to the conundrum: if you sell, where will you buy?

“I think last year a lot of sellers brought forward their property plans so we had extraordinary numbers of sales levels. But the key question, with more competition for properties, is what the impact on prices will be.”

One dampener on price growth will be the traditional rise in the numbers of houses for sale as spring gets underway, says BIS Shrapnel property analyst Angie Zigomanis. While that won’t be as big a quantity as in the last few years, it could still be substantial.

“We’ll see that pressure on prices ease a little as the spring quarter gets underway,” he says. “Also, there’s a lot more new stock being built, both houses and apartments, that will be completed and come online.

“And we’re seeing investor demand still down, with Australian Bureau of Statistics data showing lending activity for investors dropping back, but owner occupiers are coming up to fill the breach.”

Price growth will naturally tail off over time as income levels fail to jump up to match property price rises, believes Housing Industry Association senior economist Shane Garrett. In addition, he believes that many people who were thinking of selling their current home and buying something else are now choosing to stay and renovate instead.

“When they’ve weighed the pros and cons of stamp duty and the cost of selling and buying, and seen how much finance they can raise with the equity they already have in their home, they realise they can do substantial renovations, or a knock down and rebuild,” he says. “And a lot of demand for housing is being displaced into new builds.”

Indeed, the strength of demand for one new apartment complex, The Finery at Waterloo, persuaded developer Mirvac to bring forward the final release. “The level of demand for our projects suggests that spring has come early this year,” says Mirvac’s head of residential John Carfi. Photo: Kate Geraghty

When retired firefighter John Maguire decided to put his home of the last 50 years on the market, he had no doubts that spring would be the best time to sell.

“Who would buy a house in winter?” he asks. “Spring is a much better time. The sun is out shining on the house, the flowers are in bloom and the garden looks great. A house really looks at its best then.

“And in summer, it’s too hot and people are too busy going to the beach – and I will be too!”

5 Park Avenue, Randwick.

Daily ocean swimmer Maguire, 77, now has his beautifully renovated two-bedroom Federation house at 5 Park Avenue, Randwick, up for auction on September 15.

McGrath Coogee agent Jason Pisani (0410 471 761) has put on a price guide of $1.4 million-$1.5 million.

“It does look great in spring,” says Pisani. “It’s north-facing so it gets plenty of light, both morning sun and then afternoon sun to the front. Its proximity to Queens Park, Centennial Park, the eastern beaches and all the private schools makes it very special too.”

With high ceilings, period features, a near-new extension, a large entertainment terrace and scope to add a second storey, the house is in immaculate condition and is light and bright all year round.

“It’s been a lovely house but it’s time to move on now,” says Maguire, the father of two firefighter sons, Mark, 53, and Todd, 50, and grandfather to five. “It’ll be nice for someone else to enjoy it now.”

See more at: domain杭州 property

56 Glover Street, Lilyfield

56 Glover Street, Lilyfield Guide: $2.2-$2.4 million

With so few properties on the market at the moment, and the shortage of family homes on offer even more acute, McGrath Balmain agent Cindy Kennedy knew that a large five-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Lilyfield could be in huge demand.

But even she was taken aback at her small preview opening last weekend.  “We had 49 people through,” she says. “We were so busy. Everyone is desperate for more houses at the moment, especially family ones.

“This one has such generous accommodation with three living areas and, of course, with spring coming, the gardens look pretty wonderful now, with all the trees and many of the flowers blooming.”

The house, on a 430 square metre corner block close to schools, The Bay Run and the Leichhardt Aquatic Centre, is owned by expat Australians who’ve decided to return from Singapore to their original hometown of Canberra. It’s now being auctioned on September 17 through Kennedy (0404 000 570).

With a veranda overlooking the garden, a balcony off the master bedroom and DA-approved plans for a pool, it also has a tree house, workshop and rear courtyard.

“It’s perfect for either a young family or an older family, and it’s so close to the CBD,” says Kennedy.

See more at: domain杭州

Or try these:

188 Short Street, Birchgrove

188 Short Street, Birchgrove Guide: $2.5 million

A completely renovated three-bedroom, two-bathroom Victorian terrace with fabulous harbour views, a roof terrace and a pretty landscaped courtyard could be the perfect place to enjoy the onset of spring. “As the garden becomes more established, it’ll look even better,” says Cobden & Hayson agent Anthony Ross (0408 266 508). With French oak floors, state-of-the-art kitchen and a stroll to the ferry, it’s for auction September 10.

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49 Woodi Close, Glenmore Park

49 Woodi Close, Glenmore Park

49 Woodi Close, Glenmore Park Guide: $739,000-$769,000

A stunning springtime garden sets this four-bedroom, two-bathroom house off beautifully. With great indoor/outdoor living and a pool on the 790 square metre block, it’s perfect for the warmer months. “And it has such a relaxing, at-home feel to it,” says agent Andrew Lia of Jim Aitken & Partners Lennox (02 4735 2121), who’s selling the property, which is close to schools, parks and public transport.

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3/40 Dorritt Street, Lane Cove

3/40 Dorritt Street, Lane Cove Guide: $1.38 million – $1.5 million

A new townhouse in a block of just three, this three-bedroom, two-bathroom home is close to Lane Cove Village and the express city bus. “It also has its own gardens and lots of outdoor spaces for spring,” says Tony Walker of Shead Property (0402 767 666). Over 340 square metres, it has spacious open-plan interiors, including a casual living space and a private balcony. For auction September 10.

See more at: domain杭州

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04 Dec

Turnover fall spells end for 30-minute race gap experiment

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Brenton Avdulla rides Antonio Giuseppe, right, to win The Strassmeir Handicap. Photo: bradleyphotos杭州m.auThe six-month trial of 30-minute gaps between races at midweek meetings will come to an end at Canterbury on Wednesday and NSW is set to return to the traditional 35- and 40-minute gaps from next week.

The reduced gaps were a Racing Victoria idea to shorten the raceday but have not proven popular with participants and punters, with turnover dropping in the congested schedule.

“We have been reviewing our data and turnover is down overall,” Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys said.

“Revenue is paramount to the industry for it to continue to flourish and the indications that it has being affected is very concerning.

“We have to discuss our decision with the ATC, which runs most the midweek meetings but the feeling is that 40 minutes between races is better on most fronts.”

ATC general manger of racing James Heddo told Fairfax Media the club feels that a return to traditional gaps would take the pressure off on racedays.

“We would think the extra space between races will take the pressure off everyone during racedays. It will increase the lead-in times to races and give punters a better opportunity to invest,” Heddo said.

Waller vindicates scratching decisions

Chris Waller is not noted as a late scratcher of horses on raceday but he “got it right twice” last Wednesday when he took out Antonio Giuseppe and Revolver because of the very heavy Warwick Farm track and waited to Saturday.

Antonio Giuseppe looks a staying prospect in the making after chalking up back-to-back wins at Rosehill but he will probably not get to black type racing this time in.

“I was very concerned about him having a gut buster on a heavy track because I would like him to have a couple of more runs this time and get through his grades,” Waller said. “It worked out well and he beat a nice horse [in Extensible].”

About an hour later, Revolver made winning start to his career on the Beaumont track at Newcastle.

“I’m delighted that they both vindicated my decision to scratch them. Revolver has been one of the best triallers around for us recently,” Waller said. “You worry when you take a horse out midweek to run on the Saturday but we got it right twice.”

Star Thoroughbreds owner makes hall of fame

Star Thoroughbreds owner Denise Martin was inducted into the Tasmanian racing hall of fame in the associate category on Friday night.

Martin has always had horses race in the Star’s colours in her home state while her company has made it mark on the biggest races in the country. The crowning moment, of course being Sebring’s win in the Golden Slipper.

“It was fantastic to get that moment of recognition and a great night,” Martin said.

Sydney three-year-olds storm Melbourne

Peter and Paul Snowden have struck two early blows for the Sydney three-year-olds with Russian Revolution and Defcon making winning trips to Melbourne in August.

The early indications are that the three-year-old crop is up to same level as the Pierro and All Too Hard group from a couple of years ago that proved more than a match for the older horses at weight-for-age.

The depth of the Golden Rose might see a few more Sydney three-year-olds head south early, powerful colts Astern and Star Turn dominated Saturday’s Run To The Rose and the Golden Rose is not going to get any easier for anything left in their wake.

The best  Melbourne trained three-year-old, Blue Diamond winner Extreme Choice, will wait for the Moir Stakes against the older horses, so the Sydney horses should have the edge on their southern rivals.

Peter Snowden said Defcon, which won Saturday’s McNeil Stakes, will return south for the Danehill Stakes next month.

“We are trying to find the right races for each of the horses and there are certainly some nice options for them in Melbourne,” Snowden said. “We want to get the right horse in the right race.”

Snowden was delighted to watch Detective – the Breeders Plate and VRC Sires Produce Stakes runner-up – hold off Godolphin’s Drachenfels to win a Wyong maiden on Sunday. It might return into a key form reference for the spring.

“It is good to finally see him and ran home in 33-and-a-half [seconds] for his last 600 metres shows the quality of the race,” Snowden said. “We thought it would be an easy race but he beat a couple of good ones.”

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04 Dec

The Catholic Church has been rocked by sexual abuse uncovered in the royal commission

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ABOUT this time four years ago, the crisis of child sexual abuse in Australia had reached boilingpoint.The Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry was underway, the Special Commission for Inquiryinto the Catholic Diocese of Maitland Newcastle would shortly be announced and there wereoverwhelming calls for an Australia-wide royal commission into child sex abuse.

Much of that agitation was coming from the Hunter, and the Newcastle Herald’s roleindriving the public advocacy for a royal commission cannot be underestimated.

During this time the crimes and cover-ups within the Catholic Church in Newcastle were rightlylaid bare for all to see.

Now, after almost four years, as the royalcommission enters its final phase, it, too, is turning itsattention to what happened in the Catholic Church in the Hunter.

The damage to victims of the child abuse scandal can never be fullyexpressed or understood. Confused identities, broken homes, failed careers, unfulfilled dreams,and undermined communities.The scandal has shaken the Catholic Church across Australia to its very foundations.

In the past three and a half years I’ve had well over 100 meetings with groupsdirectly related to the work of the commission. I’ve met with survivors groups, parish groups,lawyers, and people working in education and social services. I’ve also met with priestsand volunteers who work in Catholic communities around Australia.

Significantly, most of those public meetings have been held in local parishes, organised by localCatholics. The depth to which the child sex abuse scandal has affected people coming to thesemeetings, mostly ordinary, practicing Catholics, is profound.

The anger at the Church leaders who failed toprotect children is more than evident. The demands for current Church leaders tobe fully transparent is unmistakable and the compassion for the peoplewho have sufferedis palpable.

In places like the Hunter, Ballarat, Townsville and regional Western Australia, the commissionhas exposed the abuse of power within the Catholic Church and the depravity that that unleashed.

Many people could be forgiven for thinking Catholic and other institutions have beensitting on their hands as the extent and depth of the abuse has been exposed.

At least for the Catholic Church this is not true.We’ve developed and put in place new guidelines for when victims want torevisit their claims. And there are new civil litigation guidelines that help church authoritiesidentify an entity for victims and survivors to sue.

The Church has also maintained its call for anindependent, national redress scheme, which would provide fair and just compensation for abusevictims.

We’ve also seen widespread implementation of safeguarding officers and structures withindioceses and religious orders.

While the Maitland Newcastle Dioceses has had in place for some time a groundbreakingapproach to the Church’s response to child sexual abuse, the Catholic ChurchAustralia-widewill never be able to do enough to alleviate the suffering so many have endured and continue to live with.

What I hope we are seeing at this point in the royal commission’s work is not just policyresponses to emerging issues, but the beginning of a genuine cultural shift in the Catholic Churchand other institutions that have been exposed by the work of this royal commission and themyriad other inquiries.

Francis Sullivan is the chief executive of theCatholic Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council

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04 Dec

ISIS would have targeted Australian cricketers: report

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Steve Smith. Photo: AP PhotoCricket Australia pulled out of a tour of Bangladesh last year because of a “credible” security threat but Steve Smith’s side had not been invited to attend a function where they reportedly were to be targeted by ISIS.

London’s Daily Mail has reported disturbing allegations from Bangladesh Cricket’s former head of performance, Mal Loye, who quit his position after learning of the alleged planned attacks against the Australians in October.

But the security threat at the time was against Australian nationals who were to attend a major function in Dhaka – not the team itself. The team had not been scheduled to attend the gathering.

CA’s statement in October said “an independent security assessment confirmed there is a risk of terrorism in Bangladesh targeting Australian nationals”.

Soon after the Australians pulled out of the trip, extremists murdered a group of Italian tourists in the city.

CA said on Sunday it stood by the decision to avoid the tour on security grounds. Specific details of who were behind the threats have not been publicly released.

“We are still hopeful of rescheduling the postponed Test tour but the safety of players and officials will always come first,” a CA spokesman said.

“We stand by our decision to postpone tours to Bangladesh due to serious concerns about the safety and security of the Australian team and officials. We will continue to monitor advice from ASIO, DFAT and our own security advisers about the security risk for any future tours of the Australian team in Bangladesh and make a decision based on this advice closer to any potential tour.”

The Daily Mail has reported on the aborted tour because of safety concerns over England’s planned tour of Bangladesh from September 30. Players have yet to give their commitment, with some reportedly reluctant to go.

Loye, a former England one-day international player, reportedly lived on the same street in Dhaka where nine Italians and a US citizen were killed in July.

“The week I left, the Australia team didn’t turn up because the terrorists had planned to take us out when we had an event sorted with the touring team,” he said.

“My boss’s wife was arranging the event with the Australians. The Australian government saw the plans from the underworld guys about what was going to happen. The plans didn’t work out for the terrorists because the Australia team didn’t arrive there.

“The Italians got shot that week. The terrorists obviously thought they’d take a few people out while they were there. That was enough for me. I knew after the shootings that my freedom as a Westerner had gone.”

The trouble in Bangladesh has meant Australia is unlikely to tour there and Pakistan again, at least in the immediate future, because of safety fears.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website on Sunday urged potential travellers to Bangladesh to “reconsider your need to travel”.

“We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Bangladesh due to the high threat of terrorist attack and the uncertain political situation,” the website said.

The England team’s head of security, Reg Dickason, who once held the same job with the Australians, head of operations John Carr and players association boss David Leatherdale have told the players they are satisfied with the security arrangements provided for the tour.

Australian Cricketers Association chief Alistair Nicholson said in October the right call had been made to cancel the tour.

“The circumstances that led to the decision to cancel the tour are bigger than the game of cricket, and it’s important to view the issue in this context. Where there are elements that are beyond our control – as there are in this case – the importance of player safety is brought sharply into focus, and this is absolutely paramount,” he said.

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04 Dec

Premium parking spaces are being used by workers, not shoppers, in Newcastle’s east end

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AVAILABILITY: Businesses argue free parking spaces in the east end on Saturdays are making it difficult for customers and visitors to easily access the area.

FOLLOWING the decision at last Tuesday night’s council meeting to reject a proposal to trial thereintroduction of paid parking in Newcastle’s east end, the Newcastle Now BusinessImprovement Association will continue to advocate on behalf of business owners to improveparking conditions and work with Newcastle City Council to drive action.

Despite the decision, Newcastle Now and many traders still strongly believe the trial represented the best interests of businesses.

Newcastle Now facilitates a Precinct Advisory Group program where businessrepresentatives meet to discuss issues and parking isalways on the agenda. There are 393 businesses in the east end and almost all receive meeting invitations and minutes, and the opportunity to have a voice.It is disappointing that a few owners who are not active in the program contacted councillors to say they did not support the trial. However, we will respond to requests tosurvey all business owners and will use our volunteer City Ambassadors to conduct surveys and ensure they have the right information.

Parking in the east end is currently free on weekends which results in on-street parkingspaces being used by long-term parkers. Workers generallyarrive early and take the parks convenient to their workplace, leaving fewer parks for visitorsand shoppers. Because paid parking applies in other areas of the city centre, workers fromthese precincts are parking their vehicles in the east end to avoid the on-streetfees. The ultimate losers are the east end businesses as those valuable on-street parks arebeing taken, making it more difficult for visitors and shoppers to find a convenient park.

According to local retailer Colin Scott, owner of Frontline Hobbies, the arrangementof free street parking on the weekend has diminished his weekend trade.

“By 8.30am on a Saturday all street parking is taken up by workers occupying spaces outsidetheir businesses,” he said. “They then stay for the day because the parking is free and not adequatelypatrolled.”

Newcastle Now’s proposal was to trial the reintroduction of paid on-street parking onSaturdays between 9am and 12pm, bringing the east end precinct in line with the west end,civic precinct and honeysuckle, where paid parking is already in place.

To assist inner city workers during the trial period we proposed opening the council-owned mall car park on Saturdays free of charge for the three-month trial. Thiswould give workers and shoppers the opportunity to park for free and open the premiumspaces for those who prefer convenience.

The report prepared by council’s Planning and Regulatory Unit stated that a $5 flat ratewould be introduced for the second and third months of the trial. Newcastle Now was notgiven the opportunity to see this report and we did not support this$5 fee. We believe the revenue from on-street parking should be used to fund the opening ofthe mall car park and reprogramming the meters, making the trial cost neutral.

In line with an extensive parking study funded jointly by the council and Newcastle Now our long-term objective is to see free 15 minute parking across the city, then a nominal fee thereafter,up to three hours. If a vehicle stays over three hours, they pay an inflated rate. Research shows 2-3 hours is the optimum time forshoppers so we need to encourage a‘churn’ of premium parks.

This trial was intended to inform the wider parking strategy and as Newcastle growsup so must our attitudes toward parking.

Edward Duc is the chair of the Newcastle Now Business Improvement Association

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04 Dec

Adam Reynolds was so sick that Souths doubted he would play against Newcastle.

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ADAM Reynolds was so sick on Saturday night that South Sydney coach Michael Maguire thought his star halfback was no chance of playing against Newcastle.

But Reynolds overcame the vomiting bug to play a starring role in the Rabbitohs 34-12 win over the Knights at Hunter Stadium on Sunday, laying on three of his side’s tries with deftly placed kicks.

Reynolds had failed to finish the Rabbits last two games, succumbing to a hamstring injury against the Warriors and suffering a head-clash in the win against the Sharks.

But despite being named to start, Maguire revealed after Sunday’s win that Reynolds was no guarantee of playing against the Knights.

“Fair credit to him,” Maguire said. “Last night I wasn’t quiet sure that he was going to play. He came down with an illness last night and he was actually quite crook, actually very sick.

“So it was a great effort for him to wake up this morning, he was still probably a little bit sick throughout the morning, but he turned up and played very well.

“The attitude of the players has been really strong and they are the little things that they are doing for each other, which is great.”

Maguire said Reynolds had been vomiting, while South Sydney captain Greg Inglis described his halfback’s symptoms as “a bit of everything”.

Maguire said Reynolds’ improvement over the past few weeks could be traced back to Origin.

“I think the whole team has been building,” he said.

“The forwards have been putting a platform for him to be able to kick off the back of it. The little areas of his game has continued to grow.

“After the Origin period he has come back and I can see he’s a better player for that experience.’’

“I think there is still a lot of upside in Adam’s game.”

Reynolds laid on the first try for Inglis in the ninth minute, changing the direction of the play before grubbering into the in-goal. The ball bamboozled Knights winger Cory Denniss and Inglis was on the spot to pounce on the ball just millimetres from the in-goal.

Reynolds was at it again just before half-time, this time landing a well-placed chip kick in the hands of a steaming Cody Walker who raced over untouched.

He put the icing on the Rabbits win with another chip kick, this time finding Alex Johnston for his second try.

MATCHWINNER: Adam Reynolds

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04 Dec

Racing: Mick Kent looks to defy spring convention with stable star Abbey Marie

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Not many horses can win a group 1 race first time up, let alone one over 1600 metres.

But that is the test that Cranbourne trainer Mick Kent may set his unbeaten mare Abbey Marie as he lines her up for success in one of the most competitive events of the season.

Kent’s audacious plan is to run the daughter of Redoute’s Choice first up in the Myer Classic for fillies and mares on Derby Day, a race that is generally one of the hardest contests all year for those restricted to the female sex.

Abbey Marie has, however, already defied convention and Kent believes that the now four-year-old has such ability that what looks like the impossible may actually be achievable.

Abbey Marie already has tasted success at group 1 level, having won the Schweppes Oaks in Adelaide over 2000m at only her third racecourse start. That success came barely six weeks after she made her racetrack debut, winning a 1300m maiden at Sandown. In between she scored over 1400m at Caulfield in a lowly benchmark race for fillies.

It would be some achievement if Kent could pull it off, particularly as Abbey Marie is also recovering from an illness that laid her low for a month shortly after her Oaks triumph.

“Because Abbey Marie had a few weeks in hospital she only had the month off, so really I have only got the Myer [as a target] for her. But she’s come back terrific,” Kent said.

“She could go  straight into the Myer. If I am happy enough she might have a prep race over 1400m before that, but I am happy enough to go straight into the Myer with her.”

While most trainers will be targeting the Cups races and the three-year-old classics, during spring, Kent’s big guns – Abbey Marie, Charlevoix and Supido – are all earmarked for tests towards the end of the carnival.

Supido reached group 1 level last season when he ran third in the Goodwood behind star galloper Black Heart Bart and subsequent Stradbroke winner Under The Louvre, while  promising stayer Charlevoix was well backed in the South Australian Derby but could finish only fifth to Howard Be Thy Name.

“I want to run Supido in the Manikato [at Moonee Valley]. I am not sure whether he will go to the Gilgai first up or straight into the Manikato.

“I will give him his big break now. There are not a lot of races for him in the spring, but in the autumn there are a million races he could go for.

“Charlevoix, I took him a step too far, five weeks [without a run]  into the Derby, he just raced really flat. It’s the Sandown Classic for him, he is unbeaten at the track.”

*Jockeys are known for being tough, and apprentice Jake Bayliss showed he was no exception to the rule at Caulfield on Saturday when he scored on his only ride of the day, Lord Barrington for Mike Moroney.

Bayliss had only returned to race riding in mid-August having missed just 18 days after fracturing two ribs and sustaining a chip on his shoulder bone after a fall at Sandown on July 27 from the Moroney-trained Bonnie Belle.

The youngster rode a terrific race, getting his mount out from the widest barrier to land on the fence and make all the running.

“I have came back in at the wrong time really, things are starting to get a bit warm with the spring carnival so it’s been a bit quiet [for an apprentice like him] but Moroneys have stuck loyal to me and keep putting me on like they do so it was good to get a result for them with my only ride.

“The doctor  said I would be looking at a month and a half on the sideline but I was well enough to ride trackwork within two weeks.  I was happy to come back quickly.”

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