Monthly archives: December, 2018

Larkham backs Wallaby rookies

Australian rugby great Stephen Larkham has urged the Wallabies to stick with Matt Toomua and Jesse Mogg to give them a chance to shine against South Africa on Saturday night.
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The Wallabies are still searching for their first win of the Rugby Championship after losing the Bledisloe Cup to New Zealand last month.

Flyhalf and fullback will be the two most contentious selections, as Quade Cooper and Israel Folau vie to take over from incumbents Toomua and Mogg.

But Larkham hopes Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie gives the ACT Brumbies duo more time to settle into their Test roles.

”I thought [Toomua] didn’t run the ball as much as he needed to [in the first Test] but we saw a dramatic transformation in the second Test. I thought he was outstanding,” he said. ”I think if this team’s given more time together, [they] will start to string wins together.

”You’ve got to give [Mogg and Toomua] some time to find some combinations out there. [Toomua] is very well suited to Test rugby. Moggy just needs a bit more time. Maybe he needs to run the ball a bit more, but his kicking was outstanding and so was his defence.”

The Wallabies went into camp on Sunday to prepare for the Springboks. Cooper and Folau are two of the highest-profile players in the team and their presence intensifies the spotlight on Mogg and Toomua.

There have been calls for McKenzie to shift Australian rookie of the year Folau from the wing to fullback to better utilise his attacking brilliance.

Mogg has been the fullback for the first two Tests and will meet with McKenzie this week to discuss how he can improve.

Toomua and Cooper have been used in tandem as the Wallabies’ chief playmaker.

Brumbies backs coach Larkham said the combination of Toomua’s structured style and Cooper’s enigmatic flair had ”tremendous potential”.

Toomua has been the starting No.10 for the Tests against the All Blacks but it remains unclear whether McKenzie will inject Cooper to the starting XV for games against South Africa and Argentina.

The Brumbies have made up the bulk of the Test team to start the Rugby Championship after they made it to the Super Rugby grand final last month.

Prop Ben Alexander could be under pressure to keep his spot, while Scott Fardy impressed in his run-on debut against the All Blacks two weeks ago.

McKenzie also wants more impact from his bench players for the clashes with South Africa and Argentina.

Mogg is hopeful of keeping his place in the starting XV and wants to show he belongs on the international stage. But with McKenzie replacing Robbie Deans as coach in July and implementing a new game plan, Mogg said it would take time for the team to adjust.

”It hasn’t been through a lack of trying, just execution a bit and I’ll improve at training and bring it into games,” Mogg said.

”We’re going to get better with the more time we have together and keeping the combinations. With a new coach, people’s expectations were high and our expectations were to win the first two Tests. It’s tough at Test level, and at the end of the day you have to perform.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net….


St Edmund’s reclaims top spot

St Edmund’s players celebrate their late equalising try in the ACT Junior Rugby Union Championships under-14 division one final against Marist. The teams finished joint winners after a 10-all draw. Photo: Graham Tidy Action from the under-14s division one final. Photo: Graham Tidy
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St Edmund’s has reclaimed its place at the top of Canberra junior rugby union after storming to 40-27 victory over Marist at Canberra Stadium on Sunday night.

In the premier match of the ACT junior rugby grand finals, St Edmund’s launched a second-half charge to cruise to victory and win the premiership.

It was the first time since 2011 St Edmund’s had won the title. It lost last year’s grand final by a painful two points to Canberra Grammar.

The team boasts rising stars Tyrell Lomax and Jason Tomane and coach Karim Sedour said captain and inside-centre Keith Morgan was outstanding.

Sedour has been coaching the first XV for three years and the grand final win was his last in charge.

”We’ve just added another rich layer of history to the St Edmund’s jersey … they’ve made their own memories and they can look back with immense pride for the rest of their lives.

”They’ll never forget … this is by far the most satisfying win because of how hard this bunch of guys has worked.”

St Edmund’s also won the under-18 division two title.

Tomane and Morgan will play for Australian A Schoolboys team and are hopeful of winning a call-up to the top side.

Marist coach Paul Mead lamented missed opportunities.

”We made a couple of mistakes and then they just ran away with it. They’re a good team and they capitalise on your mistakes,” Mead said.

”We had plenty of chances and played most of the footy, we just didn’t finish it off. Their early intercept try was probably the killer.”

More than 1000 junior players contested grand finals in all age divisions on Saturday and Sunday.

Marist won four grand finals on Sunday, but had to settle for a tie with rivals St Edmund’s in the under-14 division one premiership decider.

St Edmund’s scored with five minutes left and then nailed a sideline conversion to level the score.

With no extra time played, the teams finished the grand final with the score at 10-10.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net….


Saturday, September 7

Running man: Mandela Marathons.FREE TO AIR
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Election Coverage: Nine from 5pm, Ten from 6pm, ABC1 from 6pm, Seven from 6.30pm, SBS One from 9.30pm.

If by some fluke of nature you haven’t had politics up to your back teeth by now, the free-to-air networks are going to town on their coverage with every talking head in the country trotted out to give their two cents’ worth, offer opinion (expert and otherwise) on what’s happening and generally keep us up to speed. There’ll be a lot of the traditional ”people at a desk looking serious” format, but what holds the most promise is Ten’s The Election Project with Hugh Riminton. Just having the word ”Project” in the title gives hope we might get a bit of irreverence thrown in with the hard facts.

SCOTT ELLIS

Eddie Izzard’s Mandela Marathons, SBS One, 8.35pm

Three years ago, comedian Eddie Izzard ran 43 marathons in 51 days to raise money for charity. In 2012, he attempted to run 27 marathons in 27 consecutive days in South Africa in honour of Nelson Mandela’s 27 years in prison. But as Izzard jokingly points out, it’s a pathetic gift, really. Because he’s only offering 27 days for Nelson Mandela’s 9000 days of imprisonment. Despite describing himself as ”a sack of potatoes on a mission”, Izzard tells us the secret is that it’s all in his mind: if he tells himself he’s going to run 27 marathons, his body will simply do so. But thanks to widespread media coverage, we already know that Izzard, 50 at the time, had to postpone his mission after just four days (and four marathons) due to ”unforeseen medical complications”. Izzard’s witty, sardonic commentary lifts this above a fairly run-of-the-mill exercise-cum-history doco. There’s the germ of a quirky off-beat documentary here, but I’m not convinced this failed attempt warranted going to air.

RuPaul’s Drag Race, SBS 2, 8.45pm

The girls split into two groups of four for this week’s ”girl group” challenge, judged by former Destiny’s Child Michelle Williams. The mood for Ongina’s team is ”Texas pageant-meets-teenybopper-meets stripper”, while Akasha’s channel ”sexy whores”. This camp romp is cattier than Australia’s Next Top Model, evidenced by Williams’s creepy meows. Some of the girls look surprisingly fabulous, while others just look like blokes in dresses.

JAMES W. MANNING

PAY TV

Finding Bigfoot, Animal Planet, 7.30pm

The clowns from Finding Bigfoot are in Queensland, attaching a tracking device to a little grey kangaroo. Why? Because they think yowies eat roos. Bigfoot hunter Cliff Barackman explains that back in the US: ”Wherever we see a large concentration of protein we find sasquatches.” The glaring problem with this assertion is the fact that Cliff and his pals have never actually found a sasquatch. Nevertheless, here they claim that they have succeeded in finding yowies, those elusive hairy hominids of Australian legend. Encouraged by locals who tell stories of yowies doing everything from attacking parked cars to killing goats and hanging them in trees, they head out into the bush to try to attract the creatures. This involves banging sticks together, cooking kangaroo meat and attempting to play a didgeridoo. When they eventually hear some unidentified noises they immediately jump to the conclusion that yowies made them.

Dangerous Roads, BBC Knowledge, 7.30pm

Actors Hugh Bonneville and Jessica Hynes take turns behind the wheel on a 1500-kilometre drive across some of the worst roads in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. The roads are scary but the scenery is beautiful and there are interesting glimpses of the country’s history and the lives of its people.

BRAD NEWSOME

MOVIES

The Ant Bully (2006), Go!, 5pm

Lucas Nickle (voiced by Zach Tyler) is a little boy picked on by a big bully and his gang. Instead of trying to stand up for himself, Lucas sublimates his pent-up anger by spraying water on an anthill in a suburban front lawn.

Underground, ant Zoc (Nicolas Cage) develops a magic potion to shrink humans down to his size. Lucas is soon miniaturised and on a journey to understanding how different species live. That’s all great and noble, but the ants are human in speech and behaviour, which makes a mockery of the film’s plea to treat ants as ants. They are also painted to look like the African warriors from The Lion King. Doctoral theses need to be written about why Hollywood makes animated films in which animals have specific racial characteristics of speech and behaviour. Barnyard and Happy Feet (also both 2006) are no different, turning pigs and penguins into black street kids.

Apart from its irritating PC tone, the first half of The Ant Bully is generally compelling, the drama helped by the sweet character of Hova, beautifully voiced by Julia Roberts. Sadly, though, the film’s final act is unpleasant, turning into a full-scale war among the insects, and later with a human bug exterminator (Paul Giamatti).

Needless to say, Lucas is the one who melds the insects into a united front, exhibiting yet again the film’s belief in human superiority, despite continually pretending otherwise. Convinced of an coming conflagration, The Ant Bully is a call to arms, an instruction manual for bonding together not unlike those patriotic films made before World War II.

Yolngu Boy (2001), NITV, 9.30pm

Before Ten Canoes (see Sunday) came this touching story from debut director Stephen Johnson about three Aboriginal teenagers who find their friendship tested by the difficulty of achieving childhood dreams.

SCOTT MURRAY

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net….


Friday, September 6

Telling: Secret History of Our Streets.FREE TO AIR
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The Secret History of Our Streets,  SBS One, 7.30pm

Charles Booth was a social researcher (and, incidentally, cousin of the children’s book author Beatrix Potter) who in 1866 began a 17-year project to visit every street in London and devise a series of maps colour-coded to denote the social conditions in each street. This documentary focuses on six of the streets visited by Booth and charts the progression of each one during the past 125 years. Refreshingly, interviews with present and former residents of the street – rather than stuffy historians – give colourful context to the now and then.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, ABC1, 8.30pm

Making a welcome return to our screens tonight is the delightful Miss Fisher (Essie Davis), and this first episode back is a doozy. A prostitute is found dead in the locked room of Deputy Commissioner George Sanderson (Neil Melville), who is found unconscious with her in what appears to be an attempted murder-suicide. In search of the truth, Miss Fisher goes undercover as a working girl, a front that requires her to learn a ”fan dance” with the help of fetching instructor Carlos, and adopt a convincing Spanish accent. It’s all great fun and, as always, the sumptuous sets, costumes and music transport you straight back to the roaring ’20s. Stir yourself a dirty martini and it’s almost as if you were there.

Scott & Bailey: series return, ABC1, 9.30pm

Series three of Scott & Bailey starts with a bang when police are called to the home of an elderly couple who haven’t been seen for a while. The woman’s severed head is found at the bottom of the stairs, her body at the top and her bedridden husband malnourished, but alive. As well as investigating gruesome murders, our triumvirate of tough female leads – the titular detectives (Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharp) and their chief inspector (Amelia Bullmore) also have issues to deal with on the home front concerning husbands old and new. While it’s refreshing to see a cast of women juggling professional and personal problems with aplomb, the males are barely given lines. Tonight’s disturbing crime is a story arc that will continue throughout this series.

ANNABEL ROSS

PAY TV

Legends of the Deep: The Giant Squid, Animal Planet, 10.30pm

Yes, this amazing documentary really does contain the first footage of giant squid hunting and feeding in lightless depths hundreds of metres beneath the waves. It’s natural to be sceptical, given Animal Planet’s track record of pseudo-scientific garbage and its current enthusiasm for fake documentaries about mermaids, but the reassuring tones of narrator David Attenborough immediately put all doubt to rest. The documentary follows a Japanese-led scientific expedition to waters near the island of Chichi-jima, 1000kilometres south of Tokyo. When the scientists turn on a lure with flashing lights that mimic those of deep-sea jellyfish, a giant squid comes spearing out of the blackness, tentacles first, to grab at it. It’s an extraordinary sight but one that’s soon topped when the scientists use a smaller species of squid as bait. The giant that obligingly appears grasps the bait and hangs on, gnawing at it while shimmering silver and gold in the lights of the submarine. It’s breathtaking stuff that won’t soon be forgotten.

BRAD NEWSOME

MOVIES

The Man Who Would Be King (1975), 7Two, 2pm

For more than half a century, the tales and poems of Nobel prize-winning author Rudyard Kipling defined the British Raj. The Man Who Would Be King is one of his most famous novellas about two former British soldiers who seek fame and wealth in a remote part of Afghanistan. Through bloodshed, cunning and good luck, they become kings of a pagan tribe of Kafirs, but even kings need to behave by the local rules and customs. The story is told by an unnamed narrator who, in director John Huston’s big-screen adaptation, is revealed to be Kipling himself. Played by Christopher Plummer with all the gravitas and charisma he can muster, his presence tends to dwarf the two kings, Daniel Dravot (Sean Connery) and Peachy Carnehan (Michael Caine). Sean Connery revels in his part as a madly British hero in a time when heroes didn’t have to do good, but Caine is unsure whether he is in a comedy or a drama. Though old-fashioned and sometimes a little B-grade, The Man Who Would Be King is a rousing entertainment in the Gunga Din style. It is also worth watching to remind us, as does William Dalrymple’s non-fiction novel Return of a King, how Western adventurism in Afghanistan does not always end well.

French Kiss (1995), M Drama/Romance (pay TV), 8.35pm

Kate (Meg Ryan) heads to Paris when her fiance (Timothy Hutton) announces over the phone that he has fallen for a French woman. On the plane, Kate sits next to Luc Teyssier (Kevin Kline), the black sheep of a winemaking family. Though not the hit it should have been on its release, Lawrence Kasdan’s French Kiss is an engaging romantic comedy with two radiant leads. Ryan is at her sparkling, irresistible best and Kevin Kline, once you get past his playing a Frenchman, is delightfully roguish and charming.

SCOTT MURRAY

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net….


Thursday, September 5

FREE TO AIR
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Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Nation, SBS One, 7.30pm

Given the host is an eminent ambassador of the cuisine of the subcontinent, one might expect the ”nation” of the title is India. But in this low-budget series, Madhur Jaffrey is tracking the influence of Indian cooking on England, travelling the country to identify where the taste for chicken tikka has overtaken the appetite for fish and chips. Here she’s exploring the popularity of the food of southern India, which she describes as ”light, fragrant and full of surprises”. She finds a convert to the cooking of Kerala serving guinea fowl curry in north London, and masala dosa on the menu in Harrow. The food looks fine and the passion for it is evident, but the show’s crude production values don’t do justice to this culinary doyenne: the camera coverage can be clumsy and the sound quality fluctuates. The series looks as though it’s trying to cover the flavour of India, in all its richness and diversity, without incurring the travel costs.

Upper Middle Bogan, ABC1, 8.30pm

The fourth episode of this lively culture-clash comedy begins with a meeting of mothers. It’s Vietnamese chicken salad versus lasagne, and Israeli films versus 3D blockbusters as Margaret (Robyn Nevin) and Julie (Robyn Malcolm) get together for lunch with their predictably anxious daughter, Bess (Annie Maynard). A garage sale, organised by Bess’ daughter Edwina (Lara Robinson) to raise money for charity, then unites the Denyar-Bright and Wheeler families, with their divergent skills, values and discards, in unexpected ways. Bogan bounces along with well-crafted scripts, is cut to a snappy pace and boasts a cleverly chosen ensemble cast. This episode, directed by Tony Martin, who also wrote the teleplay, is packed with zinging cultural references and character comedy.

Please Marry My Boy, Seven, 9pm

This grubby little reality TV show continues to play its nasty game. The cruel competition involves a number of women competing for the affections of allegedly desirable bachelors, their efforts assessed not only by the men, but also by their hovering mothers. Awful.

DEBI ENKER

PAY TV

The White Queen, SoHo, 8.30pmFrom the style of the title sequence and the snowy first scene, it seems  The White Queen is hoping to lure  the Game of Thrones crowd. Which makes sense given that this series, adapted from novels by Philippa Gregory, is based on the Wars of the Roses. The Lancasters and Yorks are the original Lannisters and Starks, after all. The titular queen-to-be is one Elizabeth Woodville (Rebecca Ferguson), a demure but beautiful young widow who we first see waiting by the roadside for the young Yorkist king Edward IV to come clip-clopping along. When Edward appears in the handsome form of Max Irons (son of Jeremy), Elizabeth begs him to return the land seized from her Lancastrian husband. Edward is smitten, and the two  embark on a furtive romance. Elizabeth’s father (Robert Pugh) thinks no good can come of it, but Elizabeth’s mother, Jacquetta (the wonderful Janet McTeer), thinks her daughter has what it takes to be queen. None of it is terribly convincing but, if you don’t expect too much, it could be a bit of lightweight fun.

Kidnap and Ransom, UKTV, 9.40pmA decent-looking new series in which Trevor Eve (Waking the Dead) plays a professional  negotiator working to rescue  corporate hostages. Tonight he’s off to South Africa, where a scientist with a pharmaceutical company  has been kidnapped.

BRAD NEWSOME

MOVIES

Searching for Sugar Man (2012), M Masterpiece (payTV),12.05pm

Not long into Malik Bendjelloul’s 2012 Searching for Sugar Man, some of you will realise something is amiss. It is the story of a brilliant American singer-songwriter named Sixto Rodriguez, who has been wrongly ignored for most of his life, except in South Africa, and whose whereabouts were unknown when filming began. But as soon as the film starts playing his songs, some of you will start singing along as you realise you know the music and words. And then the record covers appear and you go: ‘‘Yes, I have [or had] that … and that one, too.’’ You see, it wasn’t only in South Africa that Rodriguez was famous: he was also famous in Australia – so much so, in fact, that his albums were released locally by Blue Goose Records. And to say Rodriguez was rediscovered in South Africa is to ignore the fact that he has irregularly toured Down Under since 1979 and that Sugar Man was used in the 2006 Australian film Candy, starring Heath Ledger. As for Rodriguez’s whereabouts, he can’t have been hard to locate, because he headlined Byron Bay’s East Coast Blues & Roots Music Festival in 2007 and 2010. Now, you might get irate and moralistic at the blatant misrepresentation of the truth, as I did and still do, or you can just tell yourself it is a fairytale and the most important thing is to introduce Rodriguez’s joyous music to those who haven’t heard it.

The Return of October (1948), 7Two, 2pm

Whimsical fluff about a horse trainer who drops dead after he bets everything on his horse and loses. Later, his teenage niece (Terry Moore) believes he has been reincarnated as a horse named October. A psychiatrist (Glenn Ford) is asked to investigate. Not the greatest plot ever, perhaps, but we all love films when we, against the world, believe in the ‘‘delusional’’ lead.

SCOTT MURRAY

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net….


It’s not over yet: Rudd

A defiant and disciplined Kevin Rudd has used his official campaign launch to urge voters not to write him off in 2013, asking them to think carefully about their jobs before installing Tony Abbott as prime minister.
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His warning on jobs came as he unveiled new promises to win the support of small business owners through beefed-up tax breaks and of apprentices through mandated trainee quotas on projects and increased incentive payments for the purchase of tools.

Positioning Labor as the battlers’ friend, Mr Rudd repeatedly appealed to any uncertainty that voters might have about severe spending cuts under a Coalition government.

”If you are still feeling uneasy about voting for Tony Abbott,” he said, ”there is good reason for that, because he’s asking you to buy something sight unseen.

”You, the Australian people, have had a long time to get to know Mr Abbott after his 20 years in Parliament, but if you still have doubts don’t vote for him.”

He said if Mr Abbott won there would be ”real change all right, because his real change means choosing massive cuts to your schools, your hospitals, your broadband, your jobs and your pay packet.”

Labor’s official re-election pitch in Brisbane came less than a week from polling day, leaving the party little time to turn around its fortunes, with polls saying it will almost certainly be thrown out of office on Saturday.

”We should have done this earlier,” admitted one senior staffer.

Mr Rudd was introduced by his wife, Therese Rein, as Labor strategists attempted to upstage Mr Abbott’s use of his daughters at last week’s Coalition launch.

Dressed in spectacular red, Ms Rein reminded the wrap-around US-style audience of handpicked supporters and Labor luminaries of her husband’s humble beginnings from sleeping in a car as a child after the death of his father to his newest role as doting grandfather.

She said he was a man ”who carries his country boy smile everywhere with him”.

”I want you to meet … a man who just knows how important it is to have a place to call home, to have the dignity of a job,” she said.

Former prime ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating received enthusiastic applause when they entered the hall, with Mr Hawke introduced by Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese as the country’s longerst serving Labor prime minister and Mr Keating as the best treasurer the country ever had.

An upbeat Mr Rudd showed no sign of feeling any political mortality, telling the party faithful that despite the welter of bad polls suggesting Labor’s troubled six years in power were at an end, all was not lost. ”In this election, we can and will prevail,” he declared.

He said he had come from behind before and, while acknowledging that Labor had made mistakes, said the nation could not afford to go backwards under an Abbott prime ministership.

Among several new policy announcements was a promise to ensure that all investment projects worth more than $300 million would be required to give local suppliers and workforces a ”fair go”. This represents a near halving of the $500 million threshold for such projects announced by Labor earlier this year. The Prime Minister said this would pump between $156 million and $624 million into Australian industry each year.

As well, Canberra-funded construction projects worth more than $5 million would have new mandatory apprentice/trainee/cadet quotas under which a minimum one in 10 workers is to be drawn from these categories, to boost job opportunities for the young.

”Federal Labor is going to this election with a positive plan for jobs,” Mr Rudd said.

Small businesses with turnover of less than $2 million a year will also benefit from an immediate ”upfront tax deduction … when they buy new equipment worth up to $10,000”.

Mr Abbott, who will make his last major campaign speech to the National Press Club on Monday, denied there were harsh cuts in the offing.

”I don’t believe the additional savings to be announced later in this week will impact on ordinary Australians,” he told the ABC’s Insiders program. ”I want to give people this absolute assurance: no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no changes to pensions and no changes to the GST.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net….


It’s Hawkey, Blanche, Paul: Labor’s showy modern family

A smiling K.Rudd prepares to launch his campaign. Photo: Harrison SaragossiLike emotionally damaged relatives to a dysfunctional family reunion, they mostly turned up. There was Hawkey, perma-tanned and hirsute, like a Floridian retiree who had doddered into the wrong condo. He smiled and raised his hand in a Windsorian wave. His wife, Blanche d’Alpuget, in white pedal pushers and a hot pink top, glided at his side, an escapee from The Golden Girls set.
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Next came Paul Keating, aged but ever elegant, introduced as ”Australia’s greatest Treasurer!”, words that made Wayne Swan sink ever lower into his fifth-row seat.

And then, of course, the Rudds. No political family smiles longer or harder. Therese Rein was splendid in a pink opera coat and Jessica Rudd sparkled in apple green. The Prime Ministerial sons trailed meekly in their power-glamour wake.

The venue was swarming with youthful volunteers wearing T-shirts emblazoned with two words: ”Kevin Rudd”, as though ”Kevin Rudd” was an underground band. No references to the Labor Party were discernible until Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese took to the stage to buoy the crowd with his idiosyncratic brand of Tory-bashing. ”Tony Abbott is no John Howard,” he said, and for once he didn’t mean it as a compliment.

Sure, Tony Abbott would be a great bloke to join you for a morning run. He would (let’s face it) be a better pick for your footy team than one K Rudd. But it was Kevin you wanted running the country. A hard worker, focused on his vision for the country. ”Kevin has had his critics,” Albo said, in marvellous understatement. But he is here to help.

Soon the helpful visionary himself, introduced by wife Therese, appeared in the room’s far corner. He spoke with gusto about family, jobs creation, the Labor tradition of a fair go, carbon pricing and education. He introduced coherent Labor-sounding policy about TAFE funding and support for tradespeople. He said that Labor had plenty of fight, and it wasn’t done fighting yet. It was a great speech. If only he had given it weeks ago, they whispered.

Rudd made generous use of the second person, a refreshing change from his usual first person, and used hand gestures to accentuate his message, pointing every now and then at a hapless crowd member, as though he or she was the sole target of Mr Abbott’s malignant slasherism.

In her heartfelt and humanising speech introducing her husband, Therese Rein told the story of the day she sent her husband to the hardware store to buy a mosquito candle. He came home with a visionary swag of home improvements items – everything from secateurs to a stepladder, Blu Tack and Roman flares. And no mozzie candle.

A cynic might say this wee tale was an unintentional insight into Kevin the Visionary. You task him with something simple like buying a mozzie candle, and he comes back with equipment and plans for a modern working family that is striving to meet the challenges of a clean energy future. You can’t say he doesn’t think big. It’s just that sometimes, all you really want is a mozzie candle.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net….


Youths wrongly detained by police will get hearing in court

A class action on behalf of about 100 NSW young people who were allegedly wrongfully imprisoned for breach of bail because of errors in the NSW Police Force database, will have its first substantive hearing in the NSW Supreme Court on Monday. Law firm Maurice Blackburn and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre say scores of children and young people have been arrested, detained and even strip-searched based on out-of-date bail information in the COPS database.
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The problem, they say, occurs when the bail conditions placed on young people are either dropped because their case has been finalised, or varied to allow for work, study or family commitments but this change in status is not being added to the database. Officers are then allegedly arresting young people for breaching bail based on faulty information.

The lead applicant in the case is 19-year-old Musa Konneh, who was arrested for breach of bail in August 2010 despite his protests that the charges against him – for travelling on a train without a valid rail ticket – had been dismissed in the children’s court four days earlier.

Musa was arrested, handcuffed, strip-searched and spent the night in the adult police cells at Penrith.

”Deprivation of liberty is the most serious penalty that you can impose on someone – young or old,” said Maurice Blackburn’s NSW managing principal, Ben Slade. ”We don’t chop people’s hands off in this country, we deprive them of their liberty. For that to happen without justification is, in our view, unacceptable.”

After two unsuccessful attempts by state government lawyers to have the matter struck out, it will proceed to a substantive hearing for the first time on Monday.

Central to this is the fact that, under the NSW Bail Act, if an officer believes on ”reasonable grounds” that a person has failed to undertake their bail conditions, they can arrest them without a warrant.

The government will use this clause to argue that, while using faulty information, the officers who arrested Mr Musa and others like him were acting lawfully.

But Maurice Blackburn and the PIAC will argue that this section of the act only applies where there are, in fact, bail conditions in force.

”If a child, or any person for that matter, is not on bail, how can there be a ‘reasonable belief’ that they have breached bail?” Mr Slade said. ”If we are successful on those questions, then we’re in a good position to sit down with the state and work our a compensation regime for the young people.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net….


Anti-boats policy is working, says Burke

Federal Election 2013 coverageFact Checker: Will Abbott’s boat buyback plan save money?Have your say at YourViewElection Live with Stephanie Peatling
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The Rudd government is claiming victory over the people smugglers with its hardline policy to stop the boats, following the lowest number of boat arrivals in six months.

”I have absolutely no doubt now that the policy is having the impact that we hoped,” Immigration Minister Tony Burke has said.

”There will still be a few more operations that are able to get away, but the truth is the smugglers continue to want to run boats – and people are no longer wanting to get on them,” he said on Sunday.

Mr Burke’s declaration came as Tony Abbott signalled that he would discuss his plan to stop the boats face to face with the Indonesian President as soon as it could be organised if he won Saturday’s election.

The Opposition Leader plans to ”hit the ground running” if he becomes prime minister and would issue instructions to set up his Operation Sovereign Borders on the first day in office.

”It would be inappropriate for an opposition leader to try to call the Indonesians and organise something like this but, if there is a change of government, well, on day one, there will be feelers out to Jakarta to see when it would be appropriate to have a visit,” Mr Abbott said in an exclusive interview with Fairfax Media. ”The sooner I can pay my respects in Jakarta the better.”

While stopping the boats is one of Mr Abbott’s core promises, Mr Burke says it is already happening under the policy Mr Rudd announced on July 19 for all asylum seeker applications to be processed offshore, and those found to be refugees settled in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

After 4236 asylum seekers arrived on 48 boats in July, the number for August dropped to 1585 on 25 boats. The number of arrivals in the last week of August was 71, the lowest weekly figure since February, according to a department official.

Mr Burke predicted large numbers of asylum seekers transiting in Indonesia would seek to return to their home countries in the next few weeks.

”What’s happening now is people are watching the first to go back and, each time we get people going back, we then get a multiplied interest from others,” he said.

”It will be a few weeks before you see very significant numbers of people returned, but there will be significant returns over the next month or two.”

Mr Abbott stressed that his Indonesian visit if be became prime minister would be about the ”overall relationship”, but it would be the first chance for him to brief President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on his intention to turn back boats when safe and buy old fishing boats that could be used by people smugglers – a policy he concedes may not be introduced.

”It wouldn’t be specifically about boats because Indonesia is an incredibly important country to Australia given its proximity, its size and its potential. It is in some respects our most important relationship.

”I want it to be a convention that the first bilateral [visit] that an incoming Australian prime minister makes is to Indonesia. I want to do it as soon as I reasonably can, but I’m not just going to turn up unannounced as it were. That would be discourteous, but it will happen as soon as it reasonably can – at a time convenient for them.”

Pressed on the need for Indonesia to co-operate with his plans, Mr Abbott said: ”We’ll do what we have to do as a sovereign, independent nation, but obviously this whole problem would be much, much better managed if we had a strong, strong working relationship with Indonesia.”

With Bianca Hall

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net….


NRL probe Dogs ‘cover-up’ over Barba

The NRL’s integrity unit will investigate whether senior Canterbury officials covered up domestic violence allegations against star fullback Ben Barba earlier this year.
Shanghai night field

The NRL announced an independent review of the Bulldogs’ actions in relation to the decision to stand down Barba at the start of the season following the publication of a ”deeply disturbing” photo of a woman – understood to be Barba’s ex-partner Ainslee Currie – with facial injuries.

Currie, who has two children with Barba, took the pre-emptive step on Saturday of issuing a statement through her lawyer to deny she was the victim of domestic violence during their relationship.

NRL officials said at no stage had they previously seen the published image or been aware of any injuries suffered as a result of physical abuse by Barba, who last week signed a three-year deal with Brisbane after successfully seeking a release from the Bulldogs so he could live closer to Currie and their children.

It has been alleged that Currie approached the Bulldogs on February 24 – the day before the club announced that Barba had been stood down to deal with personal issues relating to their break-up – and Canterbury chief executive Todd Greenberg and coach Des Hasler encouraged her to go to the police.

Currie is understood to have been concerned about the welfare of Barba, who had counselling for 17 days at a Sydney rehabilitation clinic before being able to rejoin his teammates for training.

Greenberg is now the NRL’s head of football but Fairfax Media was told he would not be involved in the investigation. The NRL said Canterbury officials openly supported the review after calling for the integrity unit to investigate the domestic violence allegations against Barba in News Ltd newspapers on Sunday. The Bulldogs did so in a press release issued at 7.20am Sunday.

However, there are concerns within the Bulldogs that such a detailed account of the story could only have come from Canterbury insiders angered by the 2012 Dally M medal winner’s decision to quit the club with two years remaining on his contract.

If so, the move may have backfired as the focus is now on the way the club dealt with Barba and Fairfax Media understands that the NRL was never told by the Bulldogs about any domestic violence allegations against him.

News Ltd is understood to have been in possession of the photo for months but had refrained from publishing it until now, despite a female reporter referring to it in an article during the NRL’s Women in League round in May.

Greenberg had been repeatedly asked about the allegations both on and off the record since the shock announcement to stand down Barba on February 25, but denied it was one of the issues that led to the club taking such drastic action.

Asked at the press conference that day if the issue related to violence by Barba against any member of his family, Greenberg said: ‘‘This is an issue we are dealing with under the code of conduct of the club. If you walk the wring way and we are not happy about it, under our code of conduct we can come down heavily on players because we have very high standards.”

Currie’s lawyer, Campbell MacCallum, said in a statement issued to Fairfax Media on Saturday:  ‘‘ … Ms Currie  wishes to place on record for the final time that there has never been physical violence in the relationship and that the allegations that have been put to her by various media commentators are incorrect.’’

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net….