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Fort Scratchley anti-Supercars graffiti a ‘p*** poor effort’photos

Fort Scratchley anti-Supercars graffiti a ‘p*** poor effort’ | photos PROTEST: “NO V8” graffiti on a wall of Fort Scratchley.
Nanjing Night Net

FURIOUS: Forts Scratchley Historical Society members Frank Carter and Graham Postlethwaite at the site of the partially-cleared graffiti on Monday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

NOT HERE: East End resident Mark Burslem with his protest banner about the November Supercars race. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

SIMILAR: Anti-Supercars graffiti on the facade of the United Service Club.

SIMILAR: Anti-Supercars graffiti on the facade of the United Service Club.

TweetFacebookFURIOUS FortScratchley volunteers have calledanti-V8 Supercarsgraffitisprayedon a wall of the historic structurea “p*** poor effort”.

The yellow painted “NO V8” tag –which appeared on Sunday and was partially cleared by Newcastle council workers byMonday–angered Fort Scratchley Historical Society president Frank Carter.

The graffiti,apparently inprotest ofthe V8 Supercars race to be held inNewcastle Eastin November,was similar to thatspray-paintedonthe United Service Club building in Watt Street on Sunday.

“They’re entitled to their feelings, but when you vandalise places like the fort and the United Service Club,you’re not doing your cause any good,” Mr Carter said.

“You would like to think, whoever it is, they’re in the minority.”

Fortcommittee member Graham Postlethwaite said therace’s opponents had a “democratic right” to protest on their property, but not onthe city’s significant sites.

“It’s a p*** poor bloody effort, and it deserves more expletives than that,” MrPostlethwaite said.

Both Mr Carter and MrPostlethwaite said they personallywelcomedtheNewcastleround of the Supercars Championshipfor the exposure it wouldgivethe city, but that ascaretakers of the fort they had to “walk a fine line”.

Mark Burslem, whose East End terrace will front the V8 circuit, has a banner above his front door that reads “V8 WRONG PLACE”.

He said he didn’t know who vandalisedthe fort or the United ServiceClub, but it didn’t surprise him.

“It’s unfortunateand it’s disappointing, but you can understand when people feel disempowered that something like this might happen,”Mr Burslem said.

The East End local will move his family to Anna Bayfor five weeks either side of the mid-November race weekend, while V8 fanfriends from Dubbostay inthe house.

The street modifications necessary for Newcastle Eastto host therace will permanentlychange the neighbourhood, Mr Burslem said, and make it more suited to being held in Raymond Terrace.

His protesthas been largelysupported by locals and passers-by, but attracted “threatening, and just vile” hate emails from Supercars supporters.

Mr Burslem said he believed the season-ending Supercars race could still be moved, despite theNSW governmentpassinglegislation in February cementing itsmove from Sydney to Newcastle.

“There are people who’ve been here since the ‘70s and stopped the bulldozers then, and now [the East End] isa jewel of the city,” Mr Burslem said.

“We’re not going to give up.”

Vandals spray United Service Club with anti-Supercars graffiti

Newcastle team to save orangutanPHOTOS

Newcastle team to save orangutan | PHOTOS Help Needed: A team is being established in the Hunter to help save the orangutan.
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TweetFacebookHome Sweet HomeWhile we’re in the animal world, take a look at these native bees that have taken up residence in a power pole at Adamstown Heights.

Herald photographer Max Mason-Hubers, who has a keen eye for interesting things in the natural world, spotted the bees.

Max pointed out that it was quite unusual to see native bees living in a colony.

There are 1500 native bee species in Australia and most are solitary.

“Solitary bees do not have queens and workers. Instead in most species, just one female bee mates with a male and then builds an individual nest for her eggs, just like a bird does,” aussiebee南京夜网419论坛 said.

The Mining VirusNewcastle writer Barbara Heaton, well known in union and activist circles, is writing a biography of the late, great Hunter resident Jim Comerford.

Jim, who died in 2006 at age 93, was a highly respected union leader who dedicated much of his life to chronicling the region’s mining history.

Barbara found a statement of Jim’s from 1994, which she described as “prescient”.

“Cargo cultism is characteristic of all governments in capitalistic societies. Unbridled mining activity is one aspect of the ‘pennies from heaven’ outlook. Next to war, mining industries are the most wasteful and damaging activities of all. The mining virus is more potent in Australia than anywhere else… and more potent in Queensland, where governments and mining companies have always been close.”

Sounds to Topics like one of those moments where someone leans across and says: “Don’t hold back mate, tell us what you really think”.

[email protected]南京夜网419论坛 Bee’s Knees: Native bees living in a power pole. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

One in 10 new Australian homes could be pre-assembled in a factory by 2027

Prefab creations give conventional homes a run for their moneySix prefab homes shaping the future of construction as building revolution takes offMuji want you to live in their new prefab model home for free
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More than 10 per cent of new Australian homes could be prefabs in 10 years’ time, moved to site after being built and assembled in a factory, says an industry expert.

And the cost-savings for home-buyers could be up to 25 per cent with more manufacturing-type companies moving into construction, and proving as disruptive as Uber was in the transport space.

“It isn’t the complete solution to the problems of housing affordability, but it’s part of the solution,” says Warren McGregor, the CEO of prefabAUS, the industry body whose membership has doubled in the last 12 months to 200 organisations all involved, or interested in, the future of prefabricated housing.

“Obviously there are other issues like the scarcity and price of land in some areas, but even if you just save 10 per cent on the cost of a home, then that can be a wonderful contributor.

“The forecast of a 10 per cent growth in 10 years isn’t outrageous at all, especially when you have more manufacturing companies coming in and changing the kind of business models construction has always worked with.”

Prefab housing – also known as modular or off-site construction – has long been a massive part of the residential market in many regions overseas, accounting for 80 per cent of homes in Sweden and 15 per cent in Japan, with numbers rising rapidly across Europe and Asia.

In Australia, however, it’s been slower to take off, currently accounting for just 3 per cent of homes built, and usually for single custom-built, architecture-designed homes. Yet that’s a figure that’s about to jump exponentially, according to many in the industry.

A major research project is currently being conducted by the University of Melbourne into the practice and economics of prefab construction, there’s a study tour by major players to Sweden in May, state governments are becoming interested as lower-cost solutions to scale housing and big developers are investing a lot more into research and development. In addition, home-buyers themselves are becoming much less sceptical about the quality of pre-made housing.

“I think here we’re used to thinking about prefabs in terms of transportable homes, schools or mining camps,” says Bill McCorkell, an architect by profession and a builder by trade who runs prefab company ArchiBlox. “Australia has been lagging behind other countries in exposure and take-up but now I think we’re becoming early adopters in the industry and so many more people are showing interest.

“From a quality point of view, it’s a method that makes absolute sense. Constructing in our facilities means we have the ability to manage the day-to-day trades – the tilers, plasterers etc – who work on our homes so much more easily and ensure quality work. In the domestic industry, you need a project manager as tradies move from site-to-site and often blame each other for shortcomings in quality.”

Sweden is certainly leading the way, probably because their long, cruel winters and short summers aren’t conducive to building homes on site outdoors. In Australia, with much more clement weather, that hasn’t proved a major driver.

We’ve also become good at building our traditional brick veneer and terracotta-tiled homes pretty cheaply too, says Jan Gyrn, managing director of Modscape. “I think we’ve become accustomed to that as our residential model and they’re building them at a fairly low price point.

“But now in Australia we’re starting to see a lot of cheaper component-part-pre-fabricated companies start to emerge in the residential market. And while at the moment prefab methods have taken off for the bespoke homes built to sit in the landscape, I think we’ll start to see a lot more growth in the project home market as well.

“After all, our homes take 12 weeks to build rather than 12 months, are installed in a day and finished off in two to three weeks. The forecast is that the numbers will grow to 10 per cent in the next 10 years, which is rapid growth.”

As the operations of major Japanese house-builder Sekisui House, which has a large prefab division, increase in Australia after its purchase of A.V. Jenning in 2009 and its partnerships with many of our large developers, such as Frasers Property Australia and Lend Lease, that’s likely to further spur change.

Any worries about longevity of modular housing will also be assuaged, believes Peter Smith, founder and director of Unibuild Technology. “My first prefab building was in Canberra, and it’s still looking good 48 years later,” he says. “We’re now leading a new charge on pre-fab housing and it’s now becoming much more popular.”

Cost considerations could prove another boost, too. Melbourne-based McCorkell estimates overall cost savings could be as high as 25 per cent, taking into account that, with his firm, architecture design costs are included in the building cost, the less money spent on project managing on site, and the ease of using the same trades at the same venue who aren’t as expensive as Sydney tradies.

Most importantly, the time on site is cut enormously, meaning people can live in an old house until the last possible minute when their new home is ready for delivery, and then have it pulled down ready for the next. A house he’s just about to truck to Sydney’s Mosman, for instance, will be put up on site in two to three days, with decking and the veranda taking just a couple of weeks.

“As higher volumes of homes are made this way, you’ll be able to produce them more cheaply with economies of scale,” he says. “The market is growing and I think it’ll grow faster into the future.” This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

David Lowe: Jets’ failure no shock

Where do I start? Should I thank the dozen or so people who have wished me good luck writing this column today? Do I appease my critics, and pan the entire Jets organisation top to bottom? Or could I cheekily point out that Wellington went pretty close to towelling up Melbourne Victory 5-0 in Melbourne on Sunday?
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FRUSTRATION: Andrew Nabbout has been a shining light but his goals have not been enough to get Newcastle Jets into the play-offs. Picture: Getty Images

Taking that one step further, could I mention that it was the three players that I named as their best, Bonevacia, Finkler, and Barbarouses (along with the one of seven players missing on international dutyI named last week, Roy Krishna)who once again did the damage.

People made a big deal about a weakened side for Wellington last week, but I wrote that I felt only Krishna of those players absent was really key to the team, along with the aforementioned trio. And given the starting side and the display against Melbourne Victory, I think my point was somewhat validated.

In fact, a quick look at Wellington’s recent record shows just one stumble, away to, you guessed it, the Wanderers. They have beaten Brisbane and Victory away, drawn with Perth and tonked the Jets at home, and lost 3-1 to Tony Popovic’s side in their past five games.

There is no point trying to deny that the wheels have fallen off theJets’ season, particularly in comparison to the Wanderers and Wellington, who were similarly placed just over a month ago.

Why is that so?

Could it be they hit the wall physically and psychologically? Have other coaches worked out how to negate a limited source of genuine attacking threats?

Were the Jets “red-lining the engine” to be sitting in sixth position five weeks ago? Were the Wanderers and Wellington under-performing at that stage, their roster strength, and big names entitled to bring improved performance eventually?

A quick glance at the weekend’s resultsshows some lopsided scores, as teams show more propensity to collapse in a heap after going behind. Is that tiredness, lack of interest, a result of having to chase games as fixtures run out?

Of course, I could be over-analysing. I could just go with the coach is rubbish, the management are rubbish, The players are …and so on. That’s a big help to everyone.

I watched on with a number of ex-players on Old Boys day, winced as the Jets wasted a good start, conceded two of the softest goals you will ever see, and fell to a Wanderers side high on confidence and belief.

“What would you have done differently?” I asked everyone in the room, and no one in particular.

A sea of blank faces and sorry, shakingheads was all the answer I needed.

The season has flattered to deceive again, fizzled out again, and the fans are annoyed – but not surprised.

I will also plead guilty to getting my hopes up for a finals appearance at one stage, before reality and sanity kicked back in.

The photograph on the back page of yesterday’s Heraldpaints a thousand words, about the frustration of the last month, and the battle to keep discipline and morale intact in the face of free fall.

Disappointment, embarrassment, anger and frustration can affect normal demeanour, and I’m sure a number of people will be looking pretty hard in the mirror this week.

I will join them in a moment, as we look ahead to a clash with the Mariners that will decide where the wooden spoon resides, because realistically neither team will win their final games. The Jets are away to Sydney FC, and the Mariners away to Melbourne Victory.

It’s a situation that will surprise no one outside our region I am sure, with the vast majority of of pundits tipping the clubs to finish bottom two or threeat the start of the year.

I wonder what “crap”I came up with in the opening column of the season?

“Some have made impressive recruitment drives, see Sydney FC,” and then this: “A quick squiz at the learned and eloquent Mike Cockerill’s analysis of Sydney FC’s off-season progress almost convinced me to rush out and back the Sky Blues to win the title” …hmm, story of my life there!

Then turning my attention to the F3 rivals: “There has been a sense in the recent seasons that a distinct gulf has appeared between the affluent and the more budget-conscious clubs. … the Jets and the Marinershave nestled into the latter of the categories, all be it unwillingly, and perhaps unsurprisingly they are the two clubs with new coaches, charged with arresting the slide, and turning things around.”

I then acknowledged the platform laid by Scott Miller, post the Tinkler-Stubbins debacle , and I admit held out hope for an improved showing, all the while cautioning about the advantages held by the bigger-budget teams, and noting that the Jets would probably need four more wins than last year to make the six.

It might turn out to be two or three, but that was pretty close to the mark. The Jets needed to be more expansive to achieve that, took that route, and have paid the price for that risk.

Tellingly, one of my final comments in that piece was: “Aleksandr Kokko, the Finnish striker, is the unknown quantity, and his goalscoring capacity will be vital, one way or another.” But you can’t blame one player alone for the disappointment. The Jets have a grand total of eight goals from all players operating in the No.9 and No.10 positions all year.

To put that in perspective, I will use the statistic noted in yesterday’s Herald by James Gardiner, regarding Andrew Hoole creating 61 chances for his side, four more then the excellent Diego Castro for Perth.

Glory strikers Andy Keogh and Adam Taggart both have 10 goals or more, as does Castro. Harold and Marinkovic both have handy tallies.

A huge difference no matter how you look at it.

Defensive frailties have emerged, and the “goals against” tally has inflated as hope and confidence have dissipated.

Will a sixth coach in as many seasons, and one or two modest “marquee” signingsfix all of that?

Big decisions for Mr Lee and company.

Abetz slams big business over latest same-sex marriage push

Conservative Liberal senator Eric Abetz has slammed the country’s top business leaders over a fresh push on same-sex marriage, saying Australians were “fed up” with political correctness being placed above services.
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Companies including Qantas, ANZ, Google and eBay on Monday launched a new campaign on marriage equality, in stark defiance of Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s advice to “stick to their knitting”.

The initiative invites customers to order one of 250,000 specially-commissioned rings bearing the phrase “until we all belong” – which will also appear on Qantas boarding passes and other paraphernalia.

The ring is incomplete, representing the “gap” in equality between same-sex couples and their heterosexual peers. In a series of video advertisements, straight allies are encouraged to wear the rings “until we all belong”.

The campaign is spearheaded by Airbnb in conjunction with the official marriage equality campaign, and it is understood to be worth in excess of $5 million, including in-kind resources from the major firms.

“Business has stepped up and shown real leadership on this,” said Equality Campaign director Tiernan Brady.

“They’re showing us that their commitment to the issue is deepening. They know this is good for their employees, it is good for their customers and it is good for Australia.”

Airbnb chief executive Brian Chesky said the initiative was an opportunity for “anyone to make their support for a brother, sister, parent, friend or loved one known”.

But in a sign of the politically-charged environment surrounding the issue, the CEOs of Qantas, ANZ and Google declined to speak on the record to support the campaign.

It was immediately attacked by the Turnbull government’s arch-conservative, Senator Abetz, who accused chief executives of favouring politically correct campaigns over their own shareholders and employees.

“It’s disappointing that certain CEOs are trying to establish their personal PC credentials rather than being fully focused on the interests of their shareholders,” Senator Abetz told Fairfax Media.

“The 5000 staff at Qantas who lost their jobs a few years ago and the 200 staff who lost their jobs at ANZ last year would be very disappointed to learn those companies couldn’t afford to keep them but have the money for these types of campaigns.

Senator Abetz said Australians should have no doubt campaigns on same-sex marriage were funded by higher prices and job losses.

“I think Australians are getting fed up with some big business CEOs constantly trying to wave their PC credentials rather than getting on and delivering the services consumers expect at a reasonable price,” he said.

When the bosses of dozens of major Australian firms signed a letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last month calling on him to legislate for marriage equality, they were told to “stick to their knitting” by a fired-up Mr Dutton.

CEOs should campaign on social issues “in their own time and on their own dime”, he said. The tirade prompted a response from cabinet colleagues Simon Birmingham and Julie Bishop, who defended the CEOs’ right to free speech.

Mr Dutton declined to comment on the latest campaign on Monday.

The Turnbull government’s policy on same-sex marriage is to hold a national plebiscite to decide the issue, but the Senate rejected the enabling legislation.

Conservatives are urging Mr Turnbull not to waver from that position, however, many MPs believe the matter needs to be resolved before the next election.

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Spotless talks up rival offers to Downer

Despite ramping up its war of words opposing as “opportunistic” an unwanted takeover offer from Downer EDI, contractor Spotless shares continue to wallow at a discount to the bid as a large shareholder in the target has signalled its opposition to the offer at the present price.
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Spotless on Monday issued a lengthy statement outlining reasons for opposing the $1.15 cash a share takeover received from Downer, telling shareholders to “take no action”, as its shares traded down 0.25?? to $1.08.25?? late in the day Monday.

The target has applied to the takeover panel outlining a series of complaints that will at the very least delay the despatch of the bidder’s statement to shareholders, which in turn gives Spotless more time to beat the bushes for alternative offers.

Spotless claimed in Monday’s statement it has received “expressions of interest” from a number of unidentified parties, which are “dependent on confidentiality being maintained”.

Additionally, it disclosed a New York investor, Coltrane Asset Management has a 10.37 per cent shareholding in Spotless “through cash-settled equity swaps and an expectations to be delivered upon request the ordinary shares the subject of those swaps”. This could result in Coltrane emerging as the target’s second largest shareholder, after Downer which has a 15 per cent stake, it claimed.

Spotless is to provide its response to the unwanted offer within 15 days of Downer sending the bidder’s statement to shareholders but with the prospect of a delay as the takeover panel reviews the application received from Spotless, it may take several weeks yet before the document – with the recommendation of Spotless – is in the hands of shareholders.

Since it controls more than 10 per cent of Spotless shares, Coltrane is in a position to block Downer from taking full control of the target and, according to Spotless, Coltrane reckons the offer is pitched too cheaply.

Along with including a 90 per cent minimum condition, the Downer offer has a number of conditions, including no reduction in earnings guidance by Spotless, no material acquisitions, disposals and the like.

“Coltrane has indicated to Spotless that its present intention … would be to reject the offer at the current offer price,” Spotless claimed in the statement issued Monday.

Downer shareholders have been highly critical of the offer, arguing it would destroy shareholder value and this was one reason shares in the company remain under pressure.

Downer raised $1.1 billion from institutional shareholders via a placement at $5.95 late last month, with its shares continuing to trade at a discount to the offer, fetching $5.66, down 13??, in late trading Monday.

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Pitch battle: Premier clubs fight CV plans

Victoria’s Premier Cricket clubs are at loggerheads with Cricket Victoria over plans to introduce an independent board.
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Club delegates, including Footscray Edgewater president Geoff Collinson, are concerned about several issues involving CV chief Tony Dodemaide, although Collinson did not wish to comment when contacted by Fairfax Media on Monday.

It’s understood Dodemaide, one of Footscray’s most decorated players, has been told he is not welcome at his former club, such is the anger clubs are venting.

The 18 Premier clubs hold the majority of the 28 votes needed under the current constitution for change, and this power would most likely be threatened – or least weakened – should an independent board be introduced. Cricket Australia moved to an independent commission in 2012 in what was the biggest shake-up in its then 107-year history.

One CV source said the attacks had become personal towards Dodemaide, who was in an invidious position.

“The 18 Premier clubs hold the power but, to get an independent board, Tony needs to bring those clubs along with him to make and agree to the change. Some of those clubs don’t want change,” the source said.

“Some of these clubs have been happy to meander along like it’s the 19th century, be happy with their four or five wins a season and collect their dividends every year. The dividends weren’t tagged to anything.

“Now there is more onus on clubs to develop their region, lead junior development, introduce women’s teams – it’s becoming all too hard for them.”

Should a revamped board be approved, one of its first moves could be to slash the number of Premier clubs.

There is growing speculation the Premier clubs are considering a vote of no confidence in Dodemaide and CV chairman Russell Thomas.

The next meeting of Premier club presidents is in June, with the CV annual general meeting in August. Club delegates are likely to unofficially discuss the issue at this week’s Jack Ryder Medal presentation.

Dodemaide, the former Australian fast bowler who played 10 Tests, has been CV chief since 2007. Fairfax Media has sought comment from him.

There was controversy in 2015 over CV’s support of the Junction Oval redevelopment, but it was ultimately approved.

Some clubs believe CV has not done enough to help develop the sport at a local level. Dodemaide in recent days made it clear cricket needs to compete better with the AFL in this regard, and hopes CA’s new memorandum of understanding – still be negotiated – with the Australian Cricketers Association helps provide more funding.

There are also club rumblings claiming there are too many interstate-born players in the Victorian squad. The Bushrangers last week claimed a hat-trick of Shield titles. They have been active in securing the best talent available, with Marcus Harris (WA), Marcus Stoinis (WA), Chris Tremain (NSW), Dan Christian (SA) and departing skipper Matthew Wade (Tas) among their squad.

They have been linked to securing Tasmanian wicketkeeper Tim Paine when negotiations officially open once a new MOU is brokered.

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The staggering plan for 18 group 1 races across two days of racing

Racing NSW has boldly declared they want The Championships to feature a staggering 18 group 1s across both race days “as soon as possible” in a major shake-up to Sydney’s signature two-day carnival.
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Chairman Russell Balding, who assumed the role from John Messara only months ago, has outlined his vision for every race across the current $20 million extravaganza – barring the country and provincial championships finals – to be elevated to group 1 status.

It would create arguably the biggest group 1 racedays the world over given virtually every race run at Randwick will have elite status.

Outlining his vision to also finally crack the international market – which has so far almost shunned the autumn carnival – Balding said his other main group 1 goal with The Championships is a work in progress.

Rosehill’s Golden Slipper day is currently the biggest group 1 day of racing on the Australian calendar with five majors, including the $3.5 million world’s richest two-year-old race.

“The thing we want to do with The Championships is to look at the group status,” Balding said. “We would like to get to a situation – other than the country and provincial championships finals – that all races are group 1. That’s what we’re aspiring to.

“That way you can go and market it to not only in Australia – but to the world – that you’re competing at the elite level. Have a look at those group 2 and group 3 races … they’re not that far off group 1 status.

“It’s going to take work at our end to get those races up to group 1. That’s my aspiration and I’m sure that’s an aspiration of my board.”

While some races such as the Arrowfield Sprint have long been earmarked to reach group 1 status, it might be considered a stretch to think many of the supporting events on The Championships cards will ever reach the milestone.

The group 3 Adrian Knox Stakes – which is traditionally the 11th hour passage to the Australian Oaks – had its highest-rated horse at 68 heading into Saturday’s race.

The Australian Pattern Committee determines what races should be upgraded or downgraded and at a time when many are arguing Australia has too many group 1 races Balding’s ambition will create waves.

“The next level is to hopefully attract some more international horses and [The Championships] is only now starting to resonate as a world event,” Balding said. “These things take time – five to six years – [but] four years we’ve got a world focus. It will continue to grow.”

The only international horses confirmed for the Sydney carnival – Godolphin’s European duo Polarisation and Penglai Pavilion – are due to run in the $2 million Sydney Cup on the second day of The Championships.

“It’s making more international trainers and owners aware of The Championships and preparing their horse for The Championships – not as an afterthought at the end of their campaign or the beginning of their campaign,” Balding said.

“At the end of the day transporting horses is costly and logistically difficult because of quarantine processes. Prize money is very, very important, but it’s also the status and where the horse stands that is important.”

Winx, the Australian horse of the year, will be the headline act in the $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes as she shoots for a 17th straight win. The barrier draw will take place on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Vinery Stud Stakes-winning jockey Noel Callow has had a reckless riding charge thrown out after his ride on Montoya’s Secret in the Rosehill group 1 last Saturday week. He also had a $15,000 fine halved on appeal.

The eccentric rider, who notched his first group 1 win in Australia for more than a decade, had success with the Racing NSW appeals panel on Monday.

Callow originally pleaded guilty to a careless riding charge stemming from the closing stages of the race when he drifted out onto Hugh Bowman on Foxplay, but vehemently argued his actions were reckless.

Callow told stewards on the day he would stand down from riding the next day on mental health grounds after being stunned by the rarely-used reckless riding charge.

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Dennis Cometti: Better for Freo to let Fyfe go

Legendary football commentator Dennis Cometti says if the Dockers disastrous start to the 2017 season continues, Fremantle would be “better off” letting superstar Nat Fyfe leave.
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Cometti hung up the microphone at the end of the 2016 AFL season after three decades of calling football games at the Seven Network, including a five-year stint with Channel Nine when they acquired the rights between 2002 and 2006.

The 68-year-old, who still calls Eagles and Dockers’ home games for Triple M on Mix 94.5 said on Monday morning “it’s not much good having a marquee player if there is no marquee”.

“It begs the question, if Nat Fyfe is undecided about his future, this could sway him. He will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season,” he told Clairsy, Matt and Kymba’s Mix 94.5 breakfast show.

“If this continues (Dockers’ poor form) and this is probably a hard-liner speaking, it may be better to let Fyfe go and settle for the best deal.”

Cometti said the Crows “survived” life after Patrick Dangerfield, so life at the Dockers would continue with or without Fyfe.

The only problem for the Dockers is, the Crows were in much better shape when Dangerfield jumped ship to the Cats.

“I mean this isn’t going to turn around soon,” Cometti said about the Dockers’ flagging fortunes.

“If there is life after Dangerfield, there would be life after Fyfe and certainly you would get some high draft picks for him.”

“So that’s a tough decision for Fremantle because they are going nowhere at the moment, based on the first two weeks, so really troubling times for them.”

The cloud over Fyfe’s future will continue for most of the season, especially given the 25-year-old said late last year he wouldn’t commit to a new contract until he’s certain the Dockers were heading in the right direction.

The Dockers made Fyfe captain this season with the hope he would stay at club beyond 2017, but the brilliant onballer has openly admitted he would look elsewhere if Fremantle was able to satisfy his demands for growth or success in the near future.

“Free agency is that players have a say in their careers and it would be remiss of me not to look at every possible option,” he said.

“But if I see a strong future at Fremantle then that’s where I will be playing my footy.”

The superstar midfielder has already been to one Victorian club, with former Saints big man Justin Koschitzke claiming the Brownlow Medallist could be at St Kilda in 2018.

“He’d be a nice fit down there in the red, black and white,” Koschitzke told EON sports radio in November.

Koschitzke, who played 200 games for the Saints, said the club would throw the cheque book at Fyfe.

“I reckon if he’s out (of contract), they will make a big play for that sort of player,” he said.

“The Saints will be coming into an era where their middle-tier players are playing really well. They’ve really built well underneath, they’ll just make a big play for a big headline player like (Fyfe).”

It’s not the first time Fyfe has been linked with the Saints, with former board member Nathan Burke telling Fox Sports back in August the club had enough wriggle room in its salary cap to lure the Dockers’ star east.

“I know when I was on the board, when we set out our plan for the next five or six years, part of it was to keep some money aside for a significant free agent,” Burke told Fox Sports News.

Regardless of where he ends up playing his football next season, WAtoday reporter and Radio 6PR football expert Kim Hagdorn says Fyfe is set to become one of the game’s highest paid players.

“Fyfe, 24, will command, and probably deserve, a contract extension of more than $1 million a season beyond 2017 and for as long as five years,” he said.

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PM to pledge support to Afghanistan’s Ghani

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is expected to announce help to develop Afghanistan’s mining and agriculture sectors after meeting with the beleaguered country’s leader in Canberra on Monday.
Nanjing Night Net

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is in Australia for three nights as part of a trip to shore up international support for his efforts to turn his country around as it continues to struggle against a resurgent Taliban, the creeping presence of the Islamic State terror group, as well as al-Qaeda.

He was set to meet with Mr Turnbull on Monday night and separately with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop earlier in the day.

While he has struggled to put his stamp on his country in the past two years in the unwieldy national unity government he shares with his former arch-rival Abdullah Abdullah, Dr Ghani is broadly regarded in the West as an economic reformer who wants to wean his country off international support.

Fairfax Media understands Mr Turnbull will announce measures on Tuesday to boost development assistance and scientific co-operation with Afghanistan that will help with these aims.

The leaders will sign agreements on a development aid program that will extend existing funding to 2020 and co-operation on scientific and technical information that will help with economic infrastructure, including for mining and dryland farming.

Dr Ghani is also expected to seek assurance that Australia remains committed militarily to Afghanistan. The Australian Defence Force still has about 270 troops there, mostly training Afghan officers in the capital Kabul and the southern city of Kandahar.

Australia has committed to keeping troops there until 2018. Any further extensions will depend on discussions with the United States and NATO countries that have military presences in the country.

The Afghan leader is expected to provide Mr Turnbull with a security update on his country, which is battling a splintered Taliban that is regarded as more dangerous than at any time since the US-led 2001 invasion.

Oruzgan, the province in which most Australian troops were based, has been under growing pressure from insurgents since the Australians pulled out at the end of 2013.

Dr Ghani is understood to regard Australia as a solid partner and will thank its political leaders for their military and humanitarian help.

During a visit to Afghanistan in 2015 shortly after Dr Ghani took power, Ms Bishop spoke highly of the new leader’s determination to lay the foundations for his country’s economy by attracting foreign investment and strengthening the private sector after years of heavy reliance on foreign money after the 2001 US-led invasion that overthrew the Taliban.

Australia gives about $80 million a year to Afghanistan in bilateral aid.

Dr Ghani, a bookish technocrat with extensive expertise in building institutions in poorly governed or failed states, has an ambitious aim to develop Afghanistan’s private sector and attract foreign investment.

But it is a tough challenge, and economic growth predictions are meagre at best.

While there was some progress towards a political reconciliation with the Taliban in 2015, the chances of peace have since receded.

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Lazarus faces retrial over alleged rape

Wringing her hands, biting her lip, and bowing her head, the young woman recalled a night she was allegedly raped in a Kings Cross laneway.
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It was behind Soho nightclub, in Potts Point, that Luke Andrew Lazarus allegedly told her to get on all fours before raping her, in the early hours of May 12, 2013.

Mr Lazarus, 25. whose father Andrew Lazarus owned the club, is facing a judge alone retrial in the NSW District Court and has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent.

The woman said she was dancing next to a friend at Soho, when Mr Lazarus approached her, said he was a co-owner of the club, and introduced her to the DJ.

The woman said she and Mr Lazarus were holding hands as they walked out to a back gravel laneway, near a car park.

“We started kissing for a little while, but then I wanted to leave, so I stopped and said ‘I need to go back to my friend’,” the woman said, in recorded evidence she gave at Mr Lazarus’s 2015 trial, which was played in court on Monday.

The woman said Mr Lazarus pulled down her stockings, and she pulled them back up.

“That’s when he said ‘Put your f—ing hands on the wall’. He was getting frustrated and impatient, more aggressive than previous conversations.

“I put both my hands on the fence. I was just scared, I guess. I didn’t know what to do, so I just did what he said.”

Looking down and pausing to take breaths, the woman said Mr Lazarus told her to get on her hands and knees and arch her back, before he raped her.

“Then I just kept saying ‘I have to go back to my friend’.”

Crown prosecutor Cate Dodds told the court Mr Lazarus asked the woman to put her name in his phone, which she did, before running away.

Ms Dodds said Mr Lazarus sent a text to a friend at 2pm that day, saying: “I honestly have zero recollection of calling you. It was a sick night. It’s a pretty gross story, tell ya later.”

The prosecutor said the woman had bourbon, vodka and cocktail shots as she and her friends moved between clubs that night.

Defence barrister Phillip Boulten, SC, said Mr Lazarus is expected to give evidence that the sex was consensual.

“It’s the defence case that the complainant consented and that the accused understood it to be a consensual encounter, and that his belief that it was consensual was reasonable,” Mr Boulten said, noting both had been drinking alcohol.

“She clearly understood what was happening, there’s no doubt she had the choice to consent or not to consent.”

The trial continues before Judge Robyn Tupman.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Victory’s finals scare

A bad day at the office? Just one of those things that sometimes happens to even the best teams?
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Or was Melbourne Victory’s abject capitulation to Wellington Phoenix on Sunday a warning of deeper problems for coach Kevin Muscat as he looks to right the Victory ship ahead of the finals later this month.

Rarely have Victory been as bad as they were at AAMI Park on Sunday when they crashed 3-0 at home to a Phoenix side that is desperately battling to sneak into the finals on the back of a late-season surge.

As the old cliche goes, this was a game in which Victory was lucky to get nil..

Had the Kiwis repeated their 5-0 scoreline of a week earlier, when they smashed the Newcastle Jets in Wellington, it would not have been a complete surprise such was their domination.

In a salary-capped league, with restrictions on foreign signings and all manner of regulations governing the selection of players the reality is that there is not a huge gulf between the standards of most teams’ squads.

Yes, a handful of the big city clubs can afford to buy more expensive marquee players and sign better-known names, but the squad of premiers Sydney, for example, would not be two or three times as good as that of the struggling champions Adelaide or cellar-dwellers Central Coast.

What differentiates the successful A-League teams from the also rans is the impact their top players have, how well coached they are and, crucially, their motivation.

Victory has historically got plenty out of their big names. Besart Berisha has been the league’s most damaging striker for years. Marco Rojas has been excellent since returning, as has James Troisi in midfield.

Muscat has had his knockers over some of his tactics and selections. All coaches have. But he has got the results, leading Victory to a premiership/championship double in 2015, to the finals in 2014 and 2016 and taking the club to the Asian Champions League knock-out stage for the first time in 2016. He knows what he is doing.

On Sunday what seemed to be lacking was motivation.

There are, of course, extenuating circumstances for Victory in these last few weeks of the season

They have occupied second spot for some time and it has been clear for several rounds that they will not catch Sydney nor drop to third.

It is understandable that players might not feel quite as desperate as Wellington’s would: but if they have taken their foot off the pedal it is a dangerous game to play with the finals so close. Three defeats in their last four games suggest they have switched off a little too much.

Sunday’s result also illustrates how close the competition really is if one of the teams comfortably settled in a finals berth can be taken apart by side that simply wanted it more on the day.

Muscat was asked whether he should have guarded against such complacency by shaking up the squad, playing more youngsters and fringe players to keep the regulars sharp and focussed.

His response was that he did just that the previous week when, ravaged by international call ups and missing four first-team players, Victory fielded several youngsters and squad men in their 1-0 loss to Brisbane.

The kids and back-ups played well enough, but he went back to using his tried-and-tested stars on Sunday and they simply lacked the sparkle they had shown earlier in the season.

Muscat has been keen to use the run in to set his team up for the finals, especially with a difficult away game to come against Western Sydney Wanderers next week

“We’ve just let 90 minutes pass us by, 90 minutes that we could have used to prepare ourselves for finals,” he said after the game.

“I’ve all the confidence that our performance will improve dramatically on that. “I can’t remember the last time I’ve come here and been so disappointed in a performance.”

Muscat knows, as both a top player and a coach, that form cannot be turned on and off at whim.

“You can’t get to the finals coasting and flick a switch and then you perform well. You might do it for 10 minutes, you might do it for a half. If you’re lucky, you might do it for a game. But it won’t last.

“That’s the biggest challenge for me and the group. To make sure, we’ve had a good season, to not just coast our way to the finals and then expect to perform well in them.”

He has plenty of work to do on the evidence of the past few weeks.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

UN ‘deeply disturbed’ by Indigenous detention

Indigenous Australians are living in “appalling” conditions and young Aborigines in detention are “essentially being punished for being poor”, the United Nations has declared in a scathing report.
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A 15-day tour of Indigenous communities and high-level meetings revealed an “alarming” lack of self-determination, inappropriate housing developments and “deeply disturbing” levels of racism.

The UN’s special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, condemned the “incredibly high” incarceration rate of Aboriginal people as a “major human rights concern”.

She was most concerned about the arrest and imprisonment of young Aboriginal people for “petty” offences. In the Northern Territory, 95 per cent of youth detainees are Indigenous.

“I’ve spoken to somebody who was arrested because he stole a [piece of] fruit. And another one who was sleeping in the trash bin and that was the reason they were arrested,” Ms Tauli-Corpuz told a briefing in Canberra.

“Many of them have come from the child protection system, which means that the child protection systems are not working effectively.

“It is completely inappropriate to detain these children in punitive, rather than rehabilitative, conditions. They are essentially being punished for being poor and in most cases, prison will only aggravate the cycle of violence, poverty and crime.”

The UN has previously recommended the age of criminal responsibility be lifted from 10 to 12. Ms Tauli-Corpuz said detention of Indigenous youth “has become so prevalent in certain communities that some parents see it as an achievement that none of their children has been taken into custody so far”.

She was also “appalled” by run-down and overcrowded housing at Indigenous settlements in Darwin, likening the conditions to the developing world.

“There are some houses that don’t even have toilets. There are many families in one house,” she said. “This is really so dismal considering how rich Australia is.”

The contractors who built the homes were non-Indigenous, she told the briefing, and subsequently “the design of the houses is not really culturally appropriate”.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion welcomed the draft report on Monday, but said it contained “some inaccuracies” regarding government funding of Indigenous programs.

The vast majority of Aboriginal people had jobs, attended school and were not involved in the criminal justice system, Mr Scullion said. He acknowledged some Indigenous Australians “need additional support” and said the Coalition was committed to providing it.

The inspection follows the Don Dale youth detention scandal and poor progress in this year’s Closing the Gap report, which found that only one of seven key national targets was on track.

In her report, Ms Tauli-Corpuz said she was “disheartened” by the debate over section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which reached its apex during her tour.

“I have found the prevalence of racism against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples deeply disturbing,” she wrote, citing caricatures of Aborigines as criminals, welfare bludgers and bad parents.

“The debate on this issue is hugely damaging for the trust indigenous peoples have in government and sends the wrong signal to the public and the media that racial vilification is permissible.”

Ms Tauli-Corpuz also weighed into the debate about constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians, urging the Turnbull government to explore a formal treaty and “not linger in limbo”.

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