28 Oct

Hunter Health Kick: 2-minute challenge Monday April 13, 2015

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Renee and Emma prepare to do a back extension. Picture: Marina NeilComplete the final week of the Hunter Health Kick with some tough daily 2-minute challenges. Add the seven challenges from this week together for a 14-minute workout guaranteed to leave your muscles and lungs burning. And remember, the idea of the 2-minute challenge throughout the health kick campaign has been to remind people to get active daily and to show your support for healthier living in the Hunter by doing them. So, get moving and go out with a BIG finish.
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Monday’s 2-minute challenge

– 5 prone back extension

– 4 x fast 20m running shuttles

* Looking for healthy food options? Click here for our seven-day meal plan.

* Photos: See who’sgetting fit in the Hunter

Missed previous challenges? Catchup here.

WEEK 1

●Saturday Feb 7

● Sunday Feb 8

● Monday Feb 9

● Tuesday Feb 10

● Wednesday Feb 11

● Thursday Feb 12

● Friday Feb 13

WEEK 2: FAMILY WEEK

●Saturday Feb 14

● Sunday Feb 15

● Monday Feb 16

●Tuesday Feb 17

● Wednesday Feb 18

● Thursday Feb 19

● Friday Feb 20

WEEK 3: OFFICE WEEK

● Saturday Feb 21

● Sunday Feb 22

● Monday Feb 23

● Tuesday Feb 24

● Wednesday Feb 25

● Thursday Feb 26

● Friday Feb 27

WEEK 4: ARM WEEK

● Saturday Feb 28

● Sunday March 1

● Monday March 2

● Tuesday March 3

● Wednesday March 4

●Thursday March 5

●Friday March 6

WEEK 5: LEG WEEK

●Saturday March 7

●Sunday March 8

● Monday March 9

● Tuesday March 10

● Wednesday March 11

● Thursday March 12

● Friday March 13

WEEK 6: COREWEEK

● Saturday March 14

●Sunday March 15

● Monday March 16

● Tuesday March 17

● Wednesday March 18

● Thursday March 19

● Friday March 20

WEEK 7: COMBO WEEK

● Saturday March 21

●Sunday March 22

● Monday March 23

● Tuesday March 24

● Wednesday March 25

●Thursday March 26

● Friday March 27

WEEK 8: SKIP TO IT

● Saturday March 28

● Sunday March 29

● Monday March 30

● Tuesday March 31

● Wednesday April 1

●Thursday April 2

● Friday April 3

WEEK 9: GUILT-FREE EASTER WORKOUTS

●Saturday April 4

●Sunday April 5

● Monday April 6

● Tuesday April7

● Wednesday April 8

● Thursday April 9

● Friday April 10

WEEK 10: THE BIG FINISH

● Saturday April 11

● Sunday April 12

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28 Oct

Life’s a beach for a fun family holiday home in Manly

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Brett Mickan has created layers of effects in a Manly Beach holiday apartment. Photo: Thomas S. Dalhoff Brett Mickan has created layers of effects in a Manly Beach holiday apartment. Photo: Thomas S. Dalhoff
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Brett Mickan has created layers of effects in a Manly Beach holiday apartment. Photo: Thomas S. Dalhoff

This home design business can be so counter-intuitive sometimes: You employ a top interior designer and he takes it as his task “never to make a scheme look expected or planned. I don’t want it to look as if it’s been store bought, as a set”.

So says Brett Mickan of Brett Mickan Interior Design, and so clearly does his philosophy show in a new and formerly white-walled, white-tiled, “nondescript” Manly apartment that he made over as a holiday place for a family with five children under seven.

“They asked me to make it fun.”

Having worked for the clients previously, Mickan knew they liked his style that mingles vintage with lavish pattern, colour, distinctive splashes of wit and practical scaling.

In the Manly Beach pad, for which he is a nominee in the Dulux Colour Awards, Mickan certainly did colour, based “on blue ocean shades”, fat-striped hallway walls, a vinyl upholstered banquette and table arrangement that can seat 10, graphic cushions, a plaid rug, mid-century pieces and a couple of visual jokes in the form of a vintage flamingo lamp, and a cane seat and stool upholstered in new age chenille.

His guiding idea in this project, reflecting his background in theatrical design, was “to give the place a story”.

Mickan wanted layers of effects, some of which “could look as if they came from grandpa’s house” (the plaid rug, the Bentwood chairs), because in vintage family beach houses, generations of furniture cast-offs can congregate.

The colours, founded on a “quite dark blue named Sea Legs”, have been combined with blushes of pink, tangerine and tan. At sharp edges where some blue walls and white ceilings meet, the contrast occurs along knife-edge transitions.

He terms the chosen palette “beach deco”, which reflects the influence of having worked in Miami for 10 years.

“Those two backgrounds, theatre and Florida, taught me the power of story and the power of colour and lighting to really transform a space. And this transformation needed to be bold.”

For that, he gets a special tick for the striped hallway that is doing something beyond being entertaining.

“[This was a long corridor] that leads into the living space and the question was, ‘How do you visually take people through the hall and connect them straight away to the sense of the place?’

“It was also a shallow, 2.5-metre-high hallway, and the big stripes add height because they take your eye up and up and up. The stripes again say ‘deco’. But it’s a real bit of staging, too.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

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28 Oct

BHP Billiton reprimanded by senators, told to disclose more information to tax avoidance committee

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Corporate tax avoidance inquiry held at the State Parliament of Victoria: (From left) Ann-Maree Wolff, Phil Edmands, Tony Cudmore, Jane Michie, Stephen Pearce and Marcus Hughes. Photo: Jesse MarlowBHP Billiton has been reprimanded by a senate committee on corporate tax avoidance and given two weeks to report back after it refused to disclose basic financial information about its own operations last week.
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BHP officials appeared on Friday before a senate inquiry set up to investigate alleged widespread profit shifting to low-tax regimes by large multinational corporations with Australian operations.

The inquiry heard that BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto – Australia’s two biggest miners – are being audited by the Australian Taxation Office over their use of Singaporean marketing hubs through which billions of dollars are funnelled.

When asked about the ATO investigation, Rio Tinto’s Australian managing director, Phil Edmands, told the inquiry that Rio’s Singapore hub made a $719 million profit in 2014 and paid $44 million in tax (a 5 per cent tax rate).

But BHP’s president of corporate affairs, Tony Cudmore, said he could not provide similar information because it was “commercially sensitive”.

Instead, he and the company’s head of group tax, Jane Michie, dismissed questions about the ATO’s investigation and declined to provide basic financial information about their company, some of which is already publicly available in Singapore.

They also asked for public-interest immunity, but the committee declined their request.

On Friday the inquiry chair, Labor senator Mr Dastyari, told the BHP officials they could either answer the committee’s questions about the ATO tax probe on notice, or they could provide the information confidentially, or they could refuse to answer the questions and risk being referred to the senate.

He now says BHP has been given two weeks to make up its mind, and if it refuses to provide the information to the committee it will become a matter for senate privileges.

“We’ve given them two weeks,” Mr Dastyari told the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.

“If they refuse to give the evidence after it’s been requested by a full-fledged senate inquiry … it becomes a matter of the senate,” he said.

“Ultimately, you could find the situation that the largest company in Australia, and Australia’s largest taxpayer, is in contempt of the Australian senate.”

Mr Dastyari said he would be “flabbergasted” if between now and the next fortnight “the smart people at BHP” did not get on the phone to try to resolve the issue.

“The Australian public are just fed up with the lack of information in this space and I think a little bit more transparency, so we can actually create some laws in this space, will go a long way,” Mr Dastyari said.

The managing director of Apple’s Australian and New Zealand operations, Tony King, was severely criticised by senators during the inquiry for saying he had not heard of a well-known and controversial tax-avoidance strategy – called a Double Irish Dutch sandwich – that Google and Microsoft use to avoid tax.

Google Australia was also criticised for its use of tax minimisation strategies, particularly its use of a Singaporean hub.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

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28 Oct

Treble the fun for Josh Parr on return to Newcastle

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Josh Parr booted home three winners at Broadmeadow on Saturday. Picture: Jenny EvansCENTRAL Coast jockey Josh Parr made a triumphant return to Saturday racing at Broadmeadow when he booted home a treble.
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Parr, a group 1-winning jockey, has ridden 17 metropolitan and 19 provincial winners this season but had no opportunities in Sydney during The Championships.

The 28-year-old had seven rides at Broadmeadow on Saturday, and his three winners were for leading Sydney trainers Chris Waller (two) and Joe Pride.

Another two of his mounts were placed.

The first of Waller’s double was Honcho ($4.60) in the 1850-metre maiden plate.

Honcho won by only half a neck in a blanket finish.

New Zealand-bred Cauthen’s Power ($3.60) completed the early double for Waller and Parr when the three-year-old won the 1500m maiden in his second race start.

Punters who took the short odds on Careless ($1.35) in the 1200m maiden plate were not happy with Parr when he brought the Pride-trained Ammirata ($6.50) with a well timed run to overhaul the favourite and win by 1¼ lengths.

The winner had not raced for three months.

“That was some win by the filly as the favourite has been placed in a black-type race at Caulfield and she cruised past him,” Parr said.

“Of my other winners, Cauthen’s Power has a future and Honcho found his mark today.

“It’s probably two or three years since I rode at Broadmeadow on a Saturday.

“With the international riders and the interstate jockeys in Sydney for The Championships, there aren’t many opportunities, so I told my manager to chase rides at Broadmeadow.

“I will go wherever the rides are.

“I was only married three weeks ago and we are living at Point Clare.

“I ride work for Peter Snowden, Gai Waterhouse and Peter Moody and I have started riding work for Gerald Ryan at Rosehill on Thursdays.

“My brother-in-law, Tim Clark, and I car pool to Sydney to ride work,” said Parr, whose father, Steve, is an ex-jockey and rides work for Moody.

Warwick Farm trainer David Vandyke produced a smart newcomer in the 900m two-year-old maiden plate, the opening event.

Volante, a daughter of the boom Hunter stallion Snitzel, went to the races for the first time after two encouraging Warwick Farm trials.

Ridden by apprentice Jess Taylor, Volante ($3.60) raced clear in the closing stages.

Vandyke had to make a hit-and-run trip to Broadmeadow as he had his smart mare Bound For Earth engaged in the final event at Randwick at 5.15pm.

The successful trainer has a good opinion of Volante.

“This is a promising, well bred filly from an American mare,” he said. “She still has a lot to learn, but I liked the way she charged home, and just after the winning post Volante was well in front.

“Glyn Schofield rode her in both recent trials and he proved to be a good judge.

“Xanthippe was favourite in today’s race and she beat us in the last trial.

“Glyn got off my filly and said Xanthippe won’t beat you again and she finished second today.

“I will keep this filly going, but she won’t race for three weeks.”

Volante has 17 individual owners, and it was a full house in the winner’s bar after the race, although not all the owners were there.

The famous Godolphin stable had three starters at Broadmeadow and they all finished second.

Xanthippe, Carless and Fitou are all full of promise and will not be out of the winner’s circle for long.

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28 Oct

PHILLIP O’NEILL: Call for age-friendly cities

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“We should see ageing as a wonderful opportunity to tap the time of society’s most experienced people.”I USED to get annoyed by a car up ahead, driven by someone old, pottering its way into town.
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Then I realised it could be my Mum driving that car.

So now I smile, happy to be more patient, to share the road, pleased that another road user is fit and well, out and about, safe and sound.

It’s a change in attitude we should be making more quickly than we are. According to the recent Intergenerational Report, the IGR, the number of Australians aged 65 years or over will more than double by 2055. At present there are 3.6million aged 65 years or more. In 40 years’ time there will be 8.9million.

By then life expectancy for an average Australian man will be 95.1years and 96.6years for an average woman. One hundred years ago the average person didn’t make 60years.

It is good practice for the government to alert us of the need for long-term planning as the demography of our nation changes.

The IGR points to the need to encourage people to stay in the workforce longer, to keep the tax base ticking over, and to limit the time people draw down on their retirement savings, and receive the pension. The IGR also alerts us to the rise in health costs that the nation faces. It reveals that each year the government can provide health care for 100 teenagers for the same amount needed to fund the health costs of just 15 seniors aged in their 70s.

Old people don’t come cheap – unless they are fit and healthy.

And this is the problem with the IGR. It assumes that old people grow old and frail and that the solution is more expensive medical and pharmaceutical treatments.

Better and cheaper, however, is making it easier for the ageing cohort to remain active and mobile. Research confirms common sense: people who are out and about, interacting with others, living a life with purpose and independence, will remain healthier in mind and body.

That’s what the World Health Organisation Age-Friendly Cities project is all about. Cities and towns need an overhaul to make them friendlier to our older folk.

The WHO project reminds us how much our cities are organised around those with fit young bodies. Apparently, pedestrian lights are set typically for a walking speed of 1.2metres per second, yet an older person walks barely half that pace. Then there are cracked uneven pavements to manoeuvre.

And in many of our suburbs there aren’t pavements on both sides of the street.

Our climate is superb for getting outdoors. But we discourage the elderly. We forget about their more frequent calls of nature: where did our public toilets disappear to? And we forget about a drink of cold fresh water: what happened to the bubbler on the corner?

Our streets need comfortable seats for people to take a break, with shade. What about raised garden beds that are easily planted and weeded? What delightful places these could be for a chat.

And we need more buses to run down local streets to pick up the elderly so they can shop, go to the cinema, to church, to their club.

Our seniors are increasingly IT savvy. We need uber-style smart phone booking services so multi-passenger vehicles can advise their routes a few hours in advance, and move flexibly across our neighbourhoods.

For longer journeys, train and bus operators need to be mindful of the needs of older travellers.

Bus drivers, for example, need to watch that the elderly are safely seated before charging off down the road.

Commercially, there is a need for brighter lighting in shops, wider aisles, easier to handle trollies, large-font price labels, non-skid floors, and home deliveries after the shopping is done. Surely it makes sense to keep our 9 million oldies spending up in our town centres rather than resorting to shopping online?

New technologies such as robotics and self-navigating vehicles open a world of possibilities. But we should think of these advances as ways of keeping people healthy and active, not as new ways for global medical companies to milk government health budgets.

After all, we should see ageing as a wonderful opportunity to tap the time of society’s most experienced people. A fit mobile cohort of old people means volunteers, carers, tutors, officials of local clubs and political parties. Elderly people are wise and increasingly well-educated, with time to talk and listen; and, yes, organise and protest.

But these interactions are dependent on our cities and towns becoming age-friendly. There is much to do. Yet not one council area in the Hunter or Central Coast is registered on the WHO Age-Friendly Cities website.

Time to sign up councillors!

Phillip O’Neill is a professorial research fellow at the University of Western Sydney.

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28 Oct

Accused paedophile with links to Robert ‘Dolly’ Dunn found dead three days before Sydney trial

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School teacher and convicted child molester, Robert ”Dolly” Dunn. Picture: Supplied.EXCLUSIVE
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The body of an alleged paedophile due in court for trial on Monday in relation to a child prostitution ring involving Robert ‘Dolly’ Dunn was discovered on Friday.

Phillip Edwards, who lived at Belrose, was due to appear for trial before Judge Helen Syme at Sydney Downing Centre, according to the court list. He was said to be part of the ring operating in Sydney in the late 1970s and ’80s.Edwards faced 152 counts of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault against seven complainants, all young boys at the time. He was facing 12 of those charges on Monday.

Police said officers from Port Stephens were investigating after the body of a 63-year-old man was found about 12.30pm at the Mungo Brush recreation area. They said his death was not believed to be suspicious.

Edwards was said in previous court hearings of other members of the ring to have ‘groomed’ boys to participate in activity with men and which had links to the notorious paedophile Robert ‘Dolly’ Dunn.

Dunn wasa convictedchild molester who wasa school teacher by profession, working for theMarist Brothers, aCatholic religious order. He fled the country, but was later found inHonduras after being tracked down by Australia’s60 Minutesprogram.He began a 20-year jail sentence in 2001 and died in prison in July 2009.

Edwards, a former children’s sports instructor, had been able to spend more than five years on bail having originally been arrested in December 2009.

The length of his bail was immediately condemned by Karen Lindley from the advocacy group Bravehearts, who had given support to some of Edward’s victims.

Ms Lindley was in December awarded NSW Adult Volunteer of the Year for her support work for the victims of paedophiles which NSW Police Force’s Sex Crimes Squad says has helped put more than 16 paedophiles behind bars.

“One of his victims has already died without seeing justice,” she said. “I would say for this to happen, when he was facing trial for paedophilia with many victims, it more or less amounts to a guilty plea.

“I am appalled that Edwards has exploited the system for five years,” she said. “He was able to sell his house to pay his legal fees to keep himself out of jail and in the community. When offences like this are involved the assets of the accused should be frozen in the same way they are in Canada.

“I do believe the new Attorney-General is across this and aware of these problems.”

She called on the government to spend more on the problem.

Edwards was originally arrested along with John Thomas Shiel, then 60, of Harris Park, under Strike Force Lighthorse and both charged with 461 child sex assault offences.

The charges against Shiel included prostituting a boy in the mid-1980s to Dunn. In November 2011 Shiel was sentenced to a minimum 11 years’ jail after he pleaded guilty to 54 charges committed between 1978 and 2007.

Another member of the ring was property developer Mitchell Fox, 68, from Northbridge, who was jailed for at least 4½ years.

The Sydney District Court was told Fox sexually abused boys, aged between nine and 15, over five years at his homes in Bellevue Hill and Collaroy and on a boat on Sydney Harbour.

Judge Michael King said Fox, eligible for parole in October this year, was introduced to the boys by other members of the ring, including Shiel and Edwards.

– Adults Surviving Child Abuse 1300 657 380

– Survivors and Mates Support Network 02 8355 3711

– Lifeline 13 11 14

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28 Oct

Two people dead in light plane crash in NSW northern tablelands

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Two microlight planes at the Glen River B&B. They are not believed to have been involved in the crash. Photo: Facebook Two microlight planes at the Glen River B&B. They are not believed to have been involved in the crash. Photo: Facebook
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Two microlight planes at the Glen River B&B. They are not believed to have been involved in the crash. Photo: Facebook

Two microlight planes at the Glen River B&B. They are not believed to have been involved in the crash. Photo: Facebook

The Microlight plane crash in Glen Innes Photo: Tony Grant, The Glen Innes Examiner

The Microlight plane crash in Glen Innes Photo: Tony Grant, The Glen Innes Examiner

Two people have been killed in a microlight plane crash in the NSW northern tablelands on Sunday morning.

About 10.30am emergency services were called to a property off Nine Mile Road, north of Glen Innes, following reports of a plane crash.

Both the 51-year-old male pilot and the 55-year-old female passenger – the only people on board – were pronounced dead at the scene. The pair are from the Oak Flats and Albion Park area, just south of Wollongong in NSW.

The pair were staying at the Glen River B&B Farmstay at Dundee, north of Glen Innes, near where the accident  occured.

The B&B farmstay is known for recreational flying and hosts two private airstrips for microlight pilots,with a longer airstrip for light aircraft nearby.

It is understood that the victims were friends of the owners of the property.

A Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman said that as it was a microlight crash it would not necessarily be investigated by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

Police have established a crime scene and are investigating the cause of the crash.

They will prepare a report for the coroner.

With Erin Handley

 

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

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28 Oct

Online outrage as nine trees removed from King Street

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Trees removed from King Street Nine mature London plane trees in King Street were felled by the council on Sunday. Picture: Brock Perks
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Nine mature London plane trees in King Street were felled by the council on Sunday. Picture: Brock Perks

Nine mature London plane trees in King Street were felled by the council on Sunday. Picture: Brock Perks

Nine mature London plane trees in King Street were felled by the council on Sunday. Picture: Brock Perks

Nine mature London plane trees in King Street were felled by the council on Sunday. Picture: Brock Perks

Nine mature London plane trees in King Street were felled by the council on Sunday. Picture: Brock Perks

Nine mature London plane trees in King Street were felled by the council on Sunday. Picture: Brock Perks

Nine mature London plane trees in King Street were felled by the council on Sunday. Picture: Brock Perks

Nine mature London plane trees in King Street were felled by the council on Sunday. Picture: Brock Perks

Nine mature London plane trees in King Street were felled by the council on Sunday. Picture: Brock Perks

Nine mature London plane trees in King Street were felled by the council on Sunday. Picture: Brock Perks

Nine mature London plane trees in King Street were felled by the council on Sunday. Picture: Brock Perks

TweetFacebookTHE scenes of outrage were very different to those which marred the Laman Street fig fiasco. But the felling of nine mature plane trees in Newcastle’s King Street at the weekend still managed to generate plenty of talk and plenty of raised eyebrows.

The chainsaws were roaring early on Sunday as Newcastle council began work on rebuilding footpaths and gutters between Crown and Perkins streets.

The tree felling attracted a number of phone calls to the Newcastle Herald and generated a significant degree of anger on social media where the council’s motives and timing were strongly criticised.

The council said the mature London plane trees had been responsible for the deteriorating condition of footpaths and roads in the area and were thought to have damaged stormwater pipes beneath the road surface.

A spokesperson for the Newcastle council said the trees were cut down on a quiet weekend to ensure minimal disruption to the street during busy weekdays. The council made public announcements about the proposed works on Friday, while residents and business owners in the area were also given early notice.

The felled trees will be replaced by ornamental pear trees or ‘Chanticleer’.

The project should be finished in October, replicating the works in King Street between Darby Street and the Tower Cinemas.

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28 Oct

Last upper house seat hangs in the balance

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If the count is close, the Animal Justice Party may launch a legal challenge due to a ballot paper error. Photo: Chris HopkinsThe race for the final upper house seat in the NSW Parliament remains close, leaving open an outside possibility of a legal challenge which could result in a re-run of the upper house election and a virtual referendum on the partial privatisation of the state’s electricity assets.
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On current numbers, the No Land Tax Party looks likely to take the 21st and final upper house spot away from its closest contenders – the Liberal Party and the Animal Justice Party.

However, an error in the NSW Electoral Commission’s electronic ballot paper which left the Animal Justice Party without an above the line square for the first two days of voting meant it missed out on an estimated 660 to 1000 votes. If it loses the contest for the final upper house seat by a margin of less than 1000 votes, it may have a case for contesting the result in the Supreme Court. This could have the potential to result in a re-run of the upper house election.

ABC election analyst Antony Green said the Animal Justice Party needs the gap to be under 1000 votes at most to have a strong case for contesting the election result.

“If the gap is wider than this, it is unlikely that the Court of Disputed Returns would judge the iVote error as enough to affect the result of the election,” he said.

“If it is more than 1000 votes, I don’t think they will have an argument.”

Mr Green said on his latest count on Sunday, nine of the 20 upper house seats contested in the March election would go to the Coalition, seven to Labor, two to the Greens and one each for the Shooters and Fishers Party and the Christian Democratic Party.

He has said that nine seats for the Coalition is enough with its 11 continuing seats plus two Christian Democrats “to allow the government to negotiate passage of legislation including electricity privatisation”.

“The race for the 21st seat remains close. On my estimates No Land Tax have 80,072 votes, the 10th Liberal candidate 77,037 and Animal Justice 75,312. No Land Tax is favoured to win the final seat,” Mr Green said.

The flow of Green preferences is expected to favour the Animal Justice Party, but Mr Green said he did not expect the final count to put it ahead of the No Land Tax Party.

Constitutional lawyer George Williams from the University of NSW said the Animal Justice Party could have a solid case if the margin between it and the winning candidate is less than the number of votes it lost as a result of the iVote error.

“If it comes second in the count and the margin between it and the winning candidate is about the same or less than the votes that are lost, it has got a very solid basis for a challenge,” Professor Williams said.

“I think there is a significant difference between an election that is determining who is going to govern and an election that is determining the composition of the upper house when the most important issue the upper house is going to vote on is the poles and wires plan.

“It would give people the ability to cast a vote against the poles and wires plan while retaining Baird in office.”

Greens MP John Kaye said the final result could still be close enough to justify a challenge after Greens preferences are counted. He estimated about 3500 votes would flow to the Animal Justice Party from Greens preferences.

“It could still be close enough for a court challenge,” Dr Kaye said.

“An upper house-only ballot would become a referendum on electricity privatisation rather than a choice between Labor and Coalition government or between Luke Foley and Mike Baird.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

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28 Oct

ADAM SANTAROSSA: The TV model is broken

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“Fewer and fewer are watching movies and TV programs as they once did and the humble video store is on its knees.”AS Jon Snow once said in the most pirated television program in history, Game of Thrones, ‘‘Winter is coming’’.
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That winter is the continued crackdown in online piracy, with the lives of serial downloader’s set to receive a similar fate to one Eddard Stark or Theon Greyjoy, depending on your choice of material.

For those that did not understand any of the above, you have some viewing to do, but in layman’s terms, they’re in for a rude shock.

Now, such decisions will not directly impact my lifestyle, as I always do things by the book.

But I have a friend that downloads a lot of stuff online. I’m talking stuff from The Pirate Bay, Kick Ass Torrents; this guy knows what he’s doing.

While some consider piracy the root of all evil and is set to bring down the entertainment industry, I don’t believe everyone responsible does it to be vindictive.

Fewer and fewer are watching movies and TV programs as they once did and the humble video store is on its knees. But can we point all the blame squarely at illegal downloaders?

I believe that the Australian market just didn’t adapt to the changing needs of the entertainment consumer.

I would argue my friend downloads as he does, not to blatantly infringe copyright but because the existing model does not fulfil his needs, the needs of a new age consumer.

My friend spends $130 a month on his Foxtel and internet package, so you can hardly say he turns to torrent sites out of frugality. He turns to them because even having a pay TV subscription, it simply isn’t good enough.

New drama Kingdom premiered on Foxtel in Australia last week, yet the season finished in the US back in December. The Affair, another acclaimed hit being used in Foxtel promotions, had finished before it even aired here. Is that good enough, given the cost associated?

Free to air is guilty also. Gotham, which airs on Channel Nine, has been as much as four episodes behind the United States at times this season. Empire, a smash hit in the States watched by more than 10 million, hit our screens six months after its US debut, in a late-night timeslot on Network Ten’s secondary channel Eleven.

Some shows my friend downloads are not even available to watch in Australia, even through legitimate sources like iTunes and online streaming services.

The TV ratings season is a big part of the issue. It is the reason why these shows arrive here months after the fact, as stations closet them over the summer months, ready to unveil when the new ratings season arrives in February. Meanwhile, thousands have already got their fix online.

The world is changing, patience is thin and everyone wants everything immediately. The changing nature of the entertainment landscape forces you to. While we wait for shows to air in Australia, plot lines are spoiled on social media and all over the world wide web.

More than 100,000 Australians used their computer nous to get past Netflix geoblocking that was meant to restrict the service to North Americans, before it was recently brought to our shores. The arrival has seen many other services flood the market, such as Stan, a joint venture between Fairfax Media and Channel Nine. The arrival of these services means that illegal pirates have one less excuse; however issues still remain.

It’s clear TV has issues in Australia, and movies are not immune. We’re actually quite fortunate in Newcastle that you can still see the latest blockbusters for around $10. Our mates down south in Sydney are forking out upwards of $18 a movie. Meanwhile, the average movie price in the United States is $8.12. Yes, $8.12!

Sometimes it’s not even the cost that drives people, on occasions we have to wait months for some movies to appear in cinemas on our shores. Where do you think the impatient ones head?

Now I’m not saying what my friend does is right, but I feel his reason for doing it is because the current model no longer meets his needs. The model is broken. Australia as a whole is a world leader in ‘‘illegal downloads’’, where we sit second behind Russia. It says everything.

If you give people what they want, many won’t be forced to search for it online.

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