06/29/18

Dragons serve Golden Googars with their first taste of defeat

DEFENDING Barwon-Darling Water Cup premiers Walgett toppled the previously undefeated Brewarrina 28-26 in the senior match-of-the-round last weekend while Enngonia surged up the table with two weekend wins in a critical round of rugby league.
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The Dragons prevailed in a two-point thriller against the Golden Googars at Geoff New Ovals, Brewarrina on Sunday.

Perennial leading pointscorer Willie Wright was at his best again, the five-eighth scoring a try and booting four decisive goals in the Dragons’ victory.

He was well supported by hard-working lock Richard Dennis in a solid team performance.

Brewarrina had a host of good performers including play makers Charlie McHughes, Duane Gordon, Jack Simpson and Edward Simpson in what is a versatile all-round side.

The Googars boast five players that have scored five tries or more during 2014, and the points were shared around again in a match that boasted 10 individual try-scorers.

Sunday’s result means the minor premiership comes down to this weekend’s final round.

Walgett hosts Collarenebri on Saturday while Brewarrina travels to Bourke to play the Warriors on Sunday.

However top spot and a home major semi-final may not be the best omen for either Brewarrina or Walgett when the two sides clash again in the major semi-final in a fortnight’s time as both have scored away wins against each other during the regular season.

The power plays of the weekend came from the Enngonia who moved rapidly up the ladder with a pair of victories against Goodooga (30-0 on forfeit) and Collarenebri (46-38).

With confirmation the Outlaws and Bourke both received one point for an abandoned round six game, it meant Enngonia picked up five competition points in the last week.

Now on 10 points, Enngonia will collect two points for the round 10 bye.

Victory against Goodooga on Sunday in a deferred match from round two could hand the Outlaws third place on the ladder and a home minor semi-final.

Enngonia made the massive trek to Collarenebri on Sunday (July 20) and did enough to hold out a tired Bulldogs outfit in a high-scoring match.

The Bulldogs were backing up from a 30-4 loss to Bourke on Saturday at Collarenebri.

The Outlaws were also meant to double up but had fresh legs after Goodooga forfeited Saturday’s clash scheduled for Enngonia Sportsground.

On Sunday, Enngonia’s Reuben Barker (three tries and two goals) and Jeremy Edwards (two tries and two goals) had big says in the outcome against the Bulldogs while another youngster in Lochlan Peters (two tries) shone for Collarenebri.

The Outlaws also benefitted from second-rower Samual Shillingsworth’s bustling surges forward.

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06/29/18

Asbestos report sparks action in Donnybrook

A report highlighting 120 WA schools containing asbestos has sparked action to ensure the safety of schools and students at Donnybrook District High School.A REPORT highlighting 120 WA schools containing asbestos has sparked action to ensure the safety of schools and students at Donnybrook District High School.
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The 2013 Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) Audit highlighted 35 of those schools as having asbestos back in 2010. The report was released recently under freedom of information.

“The Barnett Government has failed to keep up with maintenance at our schools and some of these health risks have been known since 2010,” Labor spokesman for the South West Mick Murray said.

Donnybrook District High School was listed in the report as being at the highest risk level. However, this referred to one particular site and not the whole school.

Donnybrook District High School Principal Peter Fitzgerald said as he understood the issue, and he had not been advised to the contrary, the asbestos was in a situation where it was stable and not a risk. It was also in one area of the school and not throughout.

“Where there is risk, we act to the extent that we are enabled to act. I am not enabled to act to remove asbestos. That is managed through other agencies who act on behalf of the department,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“The professionals who do the assessment have deemed it to be safe. The requirement is for us to do nothing; at some future time they may remove it, that’s not a school decision, that’s a decision of the department’s agents.

“My understanding is that it is not a risk in its current state to the health or to the integrity and safety of everyone here.”

Mr Fitzgerald met on Thursday July 24 with a representative of the BMW, an arm of the Department of Treasury and Finance, who are responsible for managing all government buildings.

“He inspected a section of screening at Bentley Street which has attracted a high risk rating and is recommending that action be taken to remove the asbestos product in the screens and that these be replaced with a colourbond type product,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“Once this is approved, and I expect this will happen quickly, then he will put in place a plan to remove the asbestos product.

“This process is done in accordance with industry protocols which involve appropriate notifications, the employment of licensed specialists and adherence to laws relating to disposal. The work itself will happen at a time outside school hours, probably over a weekend.”

Education Minister Peter Collier assured parents statewide following the release of the report that the state government was taking every precaution with children’s health in managing asbestos in schools.

Mr Collier said the Western Australian Advisory Committee on Hazardous Substances had advised that exposure to asbestos cement material in WA public schools represented very little risk to health.

“Environmental health experts advise that undisturbed asbestos poses an extremely low risk to health, and where it is located in areas that are unlikely to be disturbed, there is no urgent need to remove it,” Mr Collier said.

“That said, the state government has an ongoing program of asbestos removal in schools where it presents a possible risk, and last financial year we spent approximately $2million on associated repairs and maintenance.”

Further, he said all asbestos roofing on Western Australian schools had long since been removed and replaced.

Mr Collier said the thorough Building Condition Assessment reports carried out at every school provided a clear picture of where asbestos was located, and identified those spots where there could be a greater chance of the material being disturbed.

“Out of nearly 800 schools, there were only 14 schools where inspectors found one or two spots in the school where the risk rating was 1, meaning the asbestos is probably weathered and has a higher chance of being disturbed and exposed,” he said.

“Let me stress, this does not mean the whole school is at high risk.

“In those cases, the Department of Education acts quickly and assesses the best way to minimise any hazard.

“That may involve removing the asbestos altogether, which is done under controlled conditions and when no students or staff are present, or it may involve other work such as cutting off a tree branch that is brushing up against an asbestos panel, or sealing and enclosing the asbestos.

“Schools are in regular contact with the department if they have any health and safety concerns about their facilities, and experts can be dispatched quickly to assess the issue and fix it if necessary.”

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06/29/18

NSW Governor Dame Marie Bashir opens new school gym

Bashir house students Mikayla Lilli, Katelin Koprivec and Alexia Mihalopoulos meet Dame Marie Bashir at the opening. Picture: GREG TOTMANNSW Governor Dame Marie Bashir was humbled to be invited to open the new buildings at St Mary Star of the Sea College in her role as patron of house Bashir at the school.
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At an opening ceremony on Thursday morning, Dame Marie told the crowd of students and special guests how touched she was to take part in the celebrations.

She later told the Mercury she felt “humble” that many of the young women, including Bashir house captain Alexia Mihalopoulos, considered her a role model.

“I feel very humble about that,” she said.

“It’s an absolutely indescribable honour because it’s about young people, which are the joy of my life, and it’s about education, which as Nelson Mandela said is the most powerful weapon of all.

“Of course educated young women in Australia, for centuries virtually, have helped build the nation.

“They’ve gone into every field and we see them now going into things like aeronautical engineering, extraordinary things because of their courage and the encouragement of a good society.”

Dame Marie said she was pleased to see the continued work of The Sisters of the Good Samaritan, who founded the college.

Bishop Peter Ingham was on hand to bless the $11 million facilities, which include a new gymnasium, sports science area, cafeteria and learning spaces.

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04/24/20

Godzilla review: messy monster reboot lacks bite

Godzilla lays waste to San Francisco. Photo: Supplied Bryan Cranston keeps viewers entertained before the monsters turn up in Godzilla. Photo: Supplied
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More on GodzillaMovie session timesFull movies coverage

★★☆

First, the good news. Godzilla, in 2014, looks exactly the way he should.

For this reboot of the legendary Japanese monster series, British director Gareth Edwards and his team of computer animators have done themselves proud, coming up with a creature design that’s both fearsome and true to the original: the ridges running down the back like a spiky mountain range, the pathetically grasping forearms and tiny bewildered eyes. His clanging roar, as if he had just swallowed a steam train, sounds both familiar and arrestingly new.

The climax, which involves Godzilla and a couple of his rivals laying waste to San Francisco, is spectacular enough to send any monster fan home satisfied. This is fortunate, because otherwise the film is a bit of a mess.

Visually, Edwards has picked up a good deal from Steven Spielberg, especially the trick of making shadowy, receding spaces feel both solid and mysterious. But he has little knack for emotionally cohesive storytelling, and seems unable to decide whether he’s making a militaristic techno-thriller or a fairytale nightmare in the vein of Spielberg’s War of the Worlds. More jarring still, given the generally earnest tone, are the occasional moments of broad absurdity: the comic trashing of Las Vegas is straight out of Mars Attacks!

The script, credited to Max Borenstein, is filled with clumsy exposition. While it’s to be expected that the human characters play second fiddle to the monsters, did they need to be quite so dull? As a naval bomb disposal specialist who travels to Japan to revisit the site of a family tragedy, Aaron Taylor-Johnson supplies even less personality than Charlie Hunnam as a similar jock hero in Pacific Rim. In the wife and mother roles respectively, Elizabeth Olsen and Juliette Binoche are both wretchedly wasted.

The only cast member who gets to put on a show of his own is Bryan Cranston as the hero’s nutty scientist father: essentially his role is to keep us entertained before the monsters turn up, by recycling his patented Breaking Bad expressions of gritted-teeth anguish.

A couple of shots hint that he might be seen as a kind of monster in his own right, and that Godzilla, in turn, is the ultimate Big Daddy. It’s too bad that Edwards never found a writer capable of working through the implications of this theme – or any other.

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04/24/20

Are commissions redundant?

Being paid by commission is one of the reasons some people want to work in particular industries: think real estate, sales and recruitment. But there are signs commission-based jobs are now on the way out.
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Employees who are paid a commission receive a fee or percentage based on how much they sell instead of a wage based on the number of hours they work. But some businesses are moving away from paying commissions to overcome the negative perception the public has about the practice: that is, people being paid commission are only interested in making a sale, and not in developing a relationship with a customer.

Profusion Group director Cholena Orr says the financial planning industry is one that is moving away from a commission-only structure. “Within this sector, commissions are definitely on the way out,” she says. “The market is leaning more towards offering a higher base. Banks still tend to have a commission structure but their model is more reliant on compliance and other behavioural factors.”

She adds the industry is in much better shape because of the move away from commissions. “It is certainly in better shape than it was in 2005-07,” she says. “With financial planners, the focus is much more around education and there are minimum requirements for this.”

But Hayes senior regional director Peter Noblet doesn’t believe this is a trend that will take off across the board. “There is still a massive place for commission-based roles,” he says. “Companies, especially in sales, want employees to go out and find new business and they feel paying these staff on a commission basis is the best way of getting results.”

Noblet says that contrary to the past, sales people now have a greater role in building relationships with their clients. “Organisations realise repeat business is key to survival so they expect their sales people to build relationships,” he says. “It’s no longer the case that they sign on a new client and then leave them to be looked after by others. If this is the case then these sales people don’t survive long.”

He adds being paid by commission drives desire. “It also demonstrates a sharing of the company’s success and when an employee feels like part of a company, then the retention rate is higher.”

Randstrad human resources director Tiffany says there are fewer commission-based jobs around. “One of the reasons for the change is that there is now a generation coming through that has different ideas about payment,” she says. “And these ideas tend to be based on earning a salary.”

According to Quinlan, Gen Y employees like to be paid a salary and then receive a bonus on top. “We say this generation are risk-takers but they’re not really – they want to know what they will be earning plus more,” she says. “Their attitude tends to be that they come to work so should be rewarded for that.”

But does the pay structure have to be one thing or the other? Mark Novak runs a real estate business on Sydney’s north shore. He says commissions and salaries are two different beasts and as such suit two different types of personalities.

“I have both pay structures in my business,” he says. “The sales people are the ones that I pay commissions to and this is expected by them. It gives them an incentive to go out and sell.”

He says the salaried staff are the ones dealing with roles such as administration and accounts and they are more ordered. “There are two different personalities involved here and it’s rare you’d find both traits in the same person,” Novak says. “We often hear our salaried staff saying to the sales team, ‘I don’t know how you come to work not knowing what you’re going to earn.’ And the sales people answer, ‘I don’t know how you come to work knowing what you’re going to earn.’”

He says you need the two different types of pay structures in his business. “For sales people, the sky’s the limit when it comes to how much they are can earn,” he says. “And this is what gets them up in the morning.”

Many companies still believe it’s difficult to make someone put in that extra mile when the commission is removed.

“Fear is a big driver of success in this industry,” Novak says. “If you are offering people high wages and no commission then it is too easy to get comfortable about not needing to deliver.”

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04/24/20

Late charge from banks lead Australian sharemarket higher

After trading flat for most of Thursday, Australian shares finished marginally higher, helped by some late buying in the big banks, while nickel miners were sold off after the ore plunged sharply.
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The benchmark S&P/ASX200 Index and the broader All Ordinaries both added 14.3 points, or 0.3 per cent to end at 5510.8 and 5490.2 respectively.

Weak leads from Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P500 and the Nasdaq all slipped, weighed on the local market in early trade. However, the Dow Jones and S&P500 still remain close to record highs.

Around the Asian region, Japanese and Chinese shares were among the losers, down 0.75 per cent and 0.9 per cent respectively. A stronger yen weighed on the Japanese market, while economic slowdown worries were cited as a reason for the sell-off in Shanghai.

Sparking some relief in the euro zone, German gross domestic product jumped a stronger than expected 0.8 per cent in the first quarter, up from 0.4 per cent in the final quarter of last year.

Australian investors were likely taking a pause following a strong run from indexes around the world, Perpetual head of investment market research Matt Sherwood said.

“I tend to think that it reflects the fact that valuations are elevated, they’re stretched, and the moment investors are just waiting to see if we do get that following through in earnings delivery,” Mr Sherwood said.

The next stage for the Australia market was the August corporate earnings season, Mr Sherwood said.

“Investors will be looking at earnings delivery, the overall earnings performance as well as the quality of the earnings, and that is the real unknown factor at the moment, which investors are waiting to see how it will transpire,” he said.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia continued to push to record highs, lifting to $81.30 during the session before easing back to a closing high of $81.20.

The rest of the big banks were mostly higher too, with ANZ rising 0.2 per cent to $33.20, NAB flat at $33.59 and Westpac pushing up 0.8 per cent to $34.48.

Woolworths was another strong performer, rising 1 per cent to $37.28, while Coles owner Wesfarmers gained 0.2 per cent to $43.26.

Optus posted another fall in revenue, with its mobile customers continuing to leave the provider in favours of Australia’s largest telecommunications company, Telstra. Optus’s parent company, Singapore Telecommunications, which is listed in the Singapore Stock Exchange, fell 0.3 per cent to S$3.83 in afternoon trade.

Shares in Telstra gained 0.2 per cent to $5.29, taking the stock closer to a 12-month high of $5.30 touched in January.

Graincorp profits dived 43 per cent in the six months to March, however shares lifted 0.8 per cent to $9.00. The grains handler blamed dry weather which it said had a major impact on growers, especially in northern NSW and QLD.

Shares in shopping centre giant Westfield added 0.3 per cent to $3.24, following a 4.4 per cent jump in retail sales in the March quarter, taking the company’s annual turnover to $20.3 billion. Westfield also increased its average specialty rent to $1536 per square metre.

SP Ausnet delivered an after profit tax of $305.4 million, up 11.7 per cent, but missing some analyst expectations. The electricity distributor said profit was dragged down by preparing for potential payments to the Australian Tax Office, as well as a Singapore Power owned business, which SP Ausnet terminated a contract with. SP Ausnet shares dropped 0.7 per cent to $1.36.

Nickel plunged nearly 10 per cent on Thursday, extending an overnight 4.7 per cent sell-off, as prices corrected following last week’s strong rally.

Nickel remains extremely volatile due to supply shortages following a January ban of raw materials exports in Indonesia. Last week, Vale announced it had suspended its New Caledonia nickel operations, causing the hot run to start up again.

Australian nickel miners fell as a result. Western Areas lost 3.3 per cent to $4.37, Sirius Resources dropped 3.4 per cent to $2.85, and Panoramic Resources plunged 6.1 per cent to 61.5¢.

Goodman Fielder entered a trading halt as bidders Wilmar International and First Pacific upped their previous offer for the food producer by 5¢ to 70¢ per share. Goodman Fielder shares last traded at 67.5¢.

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04/24/20

The legalities of opening an online shop

Do you love boutique products and want to be your own boss? Many Australian sole traders and small companies set up online shops. This brings niche products to market, including hand-made or imported goods. It also creates opportunity for self-employment and flexible work; opportunities favoured by many.
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Founders bring a passion for their products and a commitment to great service. But are your legals covered? It is straightforward, but important, to have the right legal framework for your online shop. Lack of legal advice and documents means that you may inadvertently breach the law, including copyright law, the consumer law and the amended privacy laws. The risks include having to cease business, pay damages and pay fines.

What content can I use on my website?

You need to either own, or be licensed to use, content on your website. You own content that you create, including copy you write, photos you take, and blogs you write for your website.

If you use third party material, you need the right to use it. If content has been created for you, you should get an assignment in writing. Alternatively, you can license content, for example purchasing a license to use stock photos. If you use third party content without permission, you may be liable for breach of their copyright. Risks include being required to remove the content, pay a usage fee, and the time and costs of a legal dispute.

What legal documents does my online shop need?

The three key legal documents are:

How do I protect my website intellectual property?

Your website contains valuable intellectual property, including descriptions of products, images and any blog content.  Your Website Terms of Use should protect your intellectual property and set out permissible and prohibited conduct. For example, you may permit republishing of your blog, on social media, with attribution to you. You may prohibit commercial use of your content.

How do I comply with Australian Consumer Law?

If you sell good to consumers you must comply with mandatory legal obligations. These include to sell goods of an acceptable quality, make sure that the goods are as described on your website, make sure the goods are fit for the purpose they are being sold for and to ensure that the goods are the same as any samples provided.

You need to handle customer complaints as required by the consumer guarantees in the Australian Consumer Law.  Purchasers are entitled to a replacement or a refund for a major failure and for compensation for other reasonably foreseeable loss or damage. For a minor failure, purchasers are entitled to have the goods repaired or replaced.

You can chose to offer additional services and refunds if you want, for example a refund for change of mind. This is not required by the Australian Consumer Law.

To conclude, developing your boutique business baby is a labour of love. Addressing the legal side will protect your interests. This helps safeguard the time and money you have invested, and gives your business a strong foundation for growth.

Ursula Hogben is a lawyer and the co-founder of LegalVision, Australia’s online business legal services provider.

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04/24/20

Tim Lafai plays on with broken hand

Untroubled by a broken hand, Canterbury centre Tim Lafai pushed through the pain barrier to score his first hat-trick of tries in the NRL last week. Lafai broke his hand at training earlier last week but played on, starring in Canterbury’s 38-6 win against St George Illawarra on Sunday. He looked untroubled on his way to a genuine hat-trick, scoring three consecutive tries for his team in a 20-minute spree. Lafai broke his hand during a contact session. “Doing contact stuff here is pretty full on,” Lafai said. “[Coach] Dessie [Hasler] likes us getting in there. I copped a knock and it started getting sore. It felt like a bruise more than a break. It’s the smallest break. You can hardly see it. It’s all good. “It’s heaps better than what it was. Next week it should be all good. It still gets sore. I’ll manage.” It’s Lafai’s second break of the season, after missing the first two weeks of the competition when he hurt his other hand. That break happened in Canterbury’s trial loss to South Sydney, and he managed to play on with the injury for about 10 minutes. “Luckily it hasn’t been anything too major compared to what I’m used to with my shoulders,” Lafai said in reference to the injuries which halted the start of his career. “It wasn’t that painful. When you’re playing the adrenaline gets you going until after the game you’re like ‘ohhh’.  Not much I can do, I just have to strap it and keep the guard on.” Lafai didn’t seek a pain-killing injection to play against the Dragons. “No needles,’ Lafai said. “I don’t like needles. If they say I need a needle I’m like ‘nah, nah’ I’ll put up with the pain.” The 22-year cemented himself as a starting centre for Canterbury this season and has kept his place in the top squad, relegating Kiwi international Krisnan Inu to NSW Cup. Lafai was rewarded with a three-year contract extension earlier this year. “I must be doing something right to keep a player like Inu in NSW Cup,” Lafai said. “I’ve got to keep proving to Dessie that I am worthy to keep my spot in first grade. I’m pretty happy with my form. Dessie wants consistency in my game. I’ve done well to keep my spot. [I’ve got to] get involved and defence is a massive thing for myself and Dessie. That’s what I’ve ben trying to work on – my defence and getting my carries up.” Meanwhile, fullback Sam Perrett expects a warm welcome when he returns to his roots in New Zealand, with the Bulldogs switching their home game from Sydney to Waikato Stadium against the Warriors on Sunday.  “I’ve got the in-laws, a few uncles and there are always some new relatives I meet,” Perrett said. “I’ve asked for about 20 [tickets] and then we work out it from there. There is always a bit of a fight between the Kiwi boys – Frankie [Pritchard] and Greggy [Eastwood]. Frankie [who is injured] is the worst. He is still making the trip across so I think he’ll be getting a hand on a bunch [of tickets].”
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04/24/20

Kafer backs Brumbies for Wallabies

Matt Toomua and Nic White should be given Wallabies jerseys according to Rod Kafer. Photo: Rohan ThomsonFormer Australian playmaker Rod Kafer has backed ACT Brumbies halves Matt Toomua and Nic White to beat Queensland stars Quade Cooper and Will Genia for Wallabies spots against France next month.
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Former Brumby Kafer praised the side’s playmakers for choosing success over the riches on offer in Europe, and is adamant they can revive the club’s glory days and nail down long-term spots in the Australian team.

The in-form Brumbies have locked up their creative core with scrumhalf White, flyhalf Toomua, inside-centre Christian Lealiifano and Jesse Mogg re-signing within days of each other.

The Brumbies are top of the Australian conference with eight wins from 11 matches, while the struggling Reds have won just three games.

“I like the White-Toomua combination … because it’s got everything you need for Test rugby,” Kafer said. “I think it’s a better Test combination than Genia and Cooper at the moment.

“The standout of all of them has been Toomua, he’s been fantastic. Game management and decision-making was a weakness in his game two years ago, but it’s not now.

“Nic White’s not the finished article yet, he needs a bit more maturity under pressure, but is getting better all the time.”

While White isn’t at Genia’s level yet, Kafer said he would give the Brumby the nod because he complements Toomua’s game.

“The combination’s really good at the moment, they’re finding each other intuitively and it never looks stressed or strained,” he said.

“With a Test team you have a really short period of time to get them together, so you need players with history.”

The combinations forged by inside-centre Kafer and the likes of George Gregan, Stephen Larkham and Matt Giteau were crucial in the Brumbies’ march to the 2001 and 2004 Super Rugby titles.

Kafer can see a similar bond building in the capital, and believes their understanding of each other’s games gives the current crop the inside running for Test selection against France next month.

Asked if they could build something special like the great Brumbies teams of the past, Kafer said: ”They’ve got the makings of it. They’ve got a good opportunity with quality playmakers to go on and do something special, but it doesn’t become special until they’ve won something.

“They haven’t won anything yet, that’s the challenge.”

Kafer said Gregan and Larkham repeatedly rejected big money overseas to stay at the Brumbies, and were rewarded with two championships.

While they’re far from that level just yet, he said if the Wallabies side was chosen today he would pick Toomua and White over the more heralded Queensland pairing Cooper and Genia.

Kafer said the players who have re-committed would be motivated by unfinished business after losing last year’s final to the Chiefs.

“What those decisions say to me is the guys have chosen success over money, because no doubt there was big money offers to go elsewhere,” he said.  “Inside-backs are in real hot demand. They made a choice to stay where they think they can be more successful and can lead to more Wallabies caps.

“George and Stephen always had big money offers from everywhere, they spurned lots of overseas opportunities because they didn’t want to play for anyone else.

“Super Rugby is always won by teams with good nines and tens, if you can bed them down for a long period of time you’re going to have a good side.

“We lost the final in ’97 and 2000, then won it in 2001. There’s no question we learnt from that experience and they will have too, no doubt.”

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04/24/20

Lin family killings: trauma so severe police thought gun had been used, Robert Xie trial hears

Yang Fei Lin and Feng Qing Zhu at the Lin family funeral in 2009. Photo: Lee Besford Jie “Jimmy” Hua, who worked at the Lin family newsagency, leaves the Supreme Court after giving evidence in Sydney on Wednesday. Photo: Chris Pearce
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Lian Bin “Robert” Xie and his wife Kathy Lin in a file picture. Photo: Danielle Smith

Two police officers who responded to a triple-0 call at the Lin family home have described how they discovered the five severely traumatised bodies surrounded by blood spatter.

Sergeant Lachlan Kirby told the NSW Supreme Court that the injuries to the victims’ faces were so extensive that “I thought a shotgun had been used”.

Giving evidence in the murder trial of Lian Bin “Robert” Xie on Thursday, Sergeant  Kirby recalled how upon his arrival at the North Epping home, Kathy Lin told him, “I think my brother is dead inside”.

He and his colleague Senior Constable Robert Levins drew their weapons and went upstairs, where they looked in each of the bedrooms.

Sergeant Kirby said that in the second bedroom, he saw a woman slumped against the wall with long black hair covering her face, which had sustained extensive trauma, and blood spatter on the walls.

Senior Constable Levins said he pushed open the door of the master bedroom with his foot and saw a half-naked female body lying on a bed, her face covered in blood.

Sergeant Kirby said he initially thought that body was male as the attack had been so extensive “I couldn’t see any facial features”.

The officers also found the bodies of two boys in a third bedroom but they did not see Mr Lin’s body, as it was hidden under a doona.

Mr Xie, 50, is accused of bludgeoning and strangling Min ‘‘Norman’’ Lin, 45, his wife Yun Li “Lily” Lin, 44, their sons Henry, 12, and Terry, 9, and Ms Lin’s sister, Yun Bin “Irene” Lin, 39, in their Boundary Road home in the early hours of July 18, 2009.

Earlier on Thursday, the court heard Mr Lin’s parents wanted the member of his family who was not killed to live with them, not with their daughter Kathy Lin and Mr Xie.

Jie “Jimmy” Hua, who had worked at the Epping Central Newsagency in the years leading up to the deaths, told Mr Xie’s trial that in the months after the deaths of the family, there was tension between Min and Kathy’s parents, Yang Fei Lin and Feng Qing Zhu, and Kathy and Robert over who would take care of the surviving relative.

Under cross-examination by Mr Xie’s counsel, Graham Turnbull, SC, Mr Hua agreed that Yang Fei Lin and Feng Qing Zhu did not want the relative to live with Mr Xie because “he was not a Lin”.

Yang Fei Lin and Feng Qing Zhu lived partly in China and partly in Merrylands in Sydney.

Mr Hua also said Yang Fei Lin and Feng Qing Zhu were critical of the way Robert and Kathy ran the newsagency after they took over the business following the deaths of Mr Lin and his family.

This was in contrast to the relationships between the various family members before the killings, when everyone seemed to get along and be supportive of each other, he said.

Under questioning from senior Crown prosecutor Mark Tedeschi, QC, Mr Hua said he “never” saw the five family members bleeding inside the newsagency near some boxes.

He also said he did not see blood inside the van Mr Lin used to make deliveries.

The trial continues.

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04/24/20

What if Joe Daniher had chosen Sydney?

Not even Joe Daniher’s parents knew what he would do, when he jumped in the car after Christmas four years ago, heading from Temora back to Melbourne with his older brother Darcy. “By the time I get home I’ll have made my decision,” he told his mother, and the rest of the family spent the next six hours wondering whether he would choose Essendon or Sydney, taking bets until he called back as promised, mind made up. “Mum,” he said, “I’m going to be a Bomber.”
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It made sense, but Daniher was a thoughtful, thorough teenager in a unique position at the end of 2010, able not only to choose between two clubs under the father-son rule, but to sign on almost two full years before he was old enough to be drafted. He was only 16, but he wanted to make his own decision. He kept his thoughts to himself but his choice was not an easy one, or anything near clear cut. It was also a call that has had implications, in a “what if?” kind of way, for him, other players and both clubs.

Would the Swans still have pursued Kurt Tippett had they known Daniher was coming at the end of 2012? Probably, but they wouldn’t have had a first-round pick to offer Adelaide for him, so would they have traded players to the Crows instead? If so, who? Had that happened, and the deal been pushed through easily, would Adelaide’s secretive salary cap deals with Tippett ever have come to light? Would the Crows have been punished as they were? If Sydney’s offer had never happened, would Tippett have ended up on the Gold Coast or with Brisbane instead?

There are other hypotheticals. Had the Swans brought in both Tippett and Daniher, they probably wouldn’t have drafted young forward Tim Membrey, who would have relied on another club to call his name and would be starting his career at another club, in another state. They certainly wouldn’t have Dean Towers, the player picked with the first-round choice they would have had to use on Daniher. And the next question is: with Tippett, Sam Reid and the promising Daniher on board, would the club have thrown so much at Lance Franklin, or would he be playing for the Giants? Or the Hawks?

“It’s an interesting one. I’m not sure what we would have done,” said Sydney chief executive Andrew Ireland. “Joe’s a really talented player and we would love to have him, but you talk to all sorts of players over the journey. If they make their mind up not to come, you move on to the next decision.”

The Bombers would have had to look elsewhere for their next big, young forward, had Daniher chosen the other team. They might, in that case, have had more money for Stewart Crameri last year. They might have tried to convince Scott Gumbleton to stick around one more year, or held onto Josh Jenkins. The club had pick 19 in 2011 and chose midfielder Elliott Kavanagh, with Richmond recruit Todd Elton and West Coast’s Fraser McInnes the only other tall forwards taken in that part of the draft. Had they waited another year, Brodie Grundy may well have headed their way.

But back to Daniher, who was seriously wooed by both clubs and who needed to make his mind up early because the rules surrounding the 17-year-olds that Greater Western Sydney could trade away at the end of 2011 were wishy-washy. Committing to Sydney or Essendon, where his father Anthony’s 233 games were almost evenly split, meant not getting caught up in that.

The Bombers had watched Daniher grow up: at 12, he’d played on the same indoor soccer team as list manager Adrian Dodoro’s son. His family was Essendon. He lived just a few minutes from Windy Hill and the club knew his brother well; though that didn’t necessarily help: Darcy’s long run of injury and subsequent struggles had exposed him and his family to the darker side of football.

A crew of campaigners landed on the Danihers’ doorstep every now and then, a combination of Dodoro, recruiting manager Merv Keane, chief executive Ian Robson and coach Matthew Knights. The Bombers planned a conditioning program for Joe, and told him where they saw him fitting in to the team of the not too distant future. But in the end it was another person who made sure they got what they wanted: James Hird, who called not long after he was appointed coach late in 2010, telling Joey his first important job was to make sure he got him to Essendon.

The Swans worked just as hard, and came very, very close. They flew Daniher to Sydney a few times, showed him around the facilities, took him to games and invited him to the best-and-fairest night. He went out for dinner with Adam Goodes, got to know the players and listened to John Longmire outline his plans for him. The coach-to-be would drop by when he was in Melbourne, and stick around for dinner.

As tightly as his family was tied to Essendon, Joe also had strong links to Sydney. His mother’s sister is married to Tony Morwood, the Swans’ Melbourne manager; and the club’s football and welfare managers Dean Moore and Dennis Carroll are good friends of his parents. Player personnel manager Kinnear Beatson and chief executive Andrew Ireland also played a big part in pushing the Swans’ case. The Swans have always been the Danihers’ second favourite club; they have friends there, and a dog named after Brett Kirk.

“I remember after one meeting that we flew home, and waiting for us was a massive bunch of flowers, a contract offer for us to pore over and a bottle of red wine,” said Daniher’s mother Jo. “The same thing happened with the Bombers – the flowers and the envelope. No wine from the Bombers though!”

Daniher made his mind up on the second last day of 2010, and called both clubs to let them know. The Swans had believed they were a huge chance, but lost a little hope after Hird signed on. The Bombers landed perhaps thekey part of their future, and Daniher was ready to get started.

“They’ve looked after my family for so many years,” he said when he became a Bomber for real, at the end of 2012. “I’m looking to repay them for what they’ve done for my family and what they’ve done for me.”

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04/24/20

Patrick Mills ready to step up in NBA playoffs: Andrew Gaze

Patty Mills helped San Antonio dominate Portland on Thursday.Canberra’s Michael Matthews still in pink
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Australian basketball legend Andrew Gaze says Patrick Mills’ star showings in the NBA playoffs will only ‘’add some more numbers’’ to his market value as he prepares to make the biggest decision of his career.

Gaze believes the Canberra product is ready to fill the shoes of injured star point guard Tony Parker after his strong display in San Antonio’s series-clinching 104-82 playoff win over Portland on Thursday.

With Parker (hamstring strain) wrapped in cotton wool after just 10 minutes, Mills ensured the Spurs didn’t miss a beat with 18 points, three rebounds, three steals and two assists in 26 minutes.

Canberra product Mills is a free agent and will soon decide whether to stay at the powerhouse Spurs, or chase bigger money and minutes elsewhere after a breakout season.

“He’s done enough, he’s going to be pretty well looked after, but playing well can only add some extra numbers to the negotiations from here on out,’’ Gaze said.

“Performances in the playoffs, they mean a little bit extra than your run-of-the-mill games.

“His performance today tells coaches, not just with the Spurs but right throughout the league, he’s not going to get overawed by the big occasion.

“Over an extended period of time he’s been able to prove himself throughout the regular season, but the playoffs go to another level.

“Playing well in the big games will be noted.’’

The Spurs will now defend their western conference title against the winner of the Oklahoma City-LA Clippers series.

Should Parker not be fit for series start, Canberra product Mills would play bigger minutes in a mouth-watering point guard battle against either Russell Westbrook or Chris Paul.

But Gaze insists the 25-year-old won’t be daunted by the prospect of taking on one of the superstars at the business end of the season.

Mills already has history against Paul on the big stage, having come up against him for the Australian Boomers against the USA ‘’Dream Team’’ the last two Olympics.

After filling a bit part role beforehand, Mills has rewarded the Spurs’ greater faith in him with a breakout season, averaging 10.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists a game.

“I don’t think Patty’s in a situation where he’d be star-struck,” Gaze said.

“He’s been around a while and got that experience. I don’t think it’d be something he’d be losing sleep over.

“He’d be excited about the prospect.”

While Parker’s benching is thought to be a precautionary measure, he has battled niggling injuries throughout the post-season.

Gaze said it’s unlikely Mills would be promoted to the starting line-up should Parker miss the start of the western conference finals, but he’d play much bigger minutes.

Mills’ outstanding game five display would help reassure coach Gregg Popovich he’d be ready to handle more responsibility as San Antonio looks to go one better than last year’s seven-game series loss to Miami in the NBA finals.

Popovich praised Mills’ display after the match, declaring he’d been a significant factor in setting up another title tilt.

“Patty’s been a significant part of our success all long and tonight was really no different to what he’s done for us all year. He’s been magnificent.’’

Paul praised a then 19-year-old Mills after he scored 20 points in a quarter final against the Americans at Beijing in 2008.

At the 2012 London Games, Paul also noted how Mills relished his greater responsibility with the Boomers.

“Patty wasn’t in the NBA yet back in (Beijing) ’08 and he did an unbelievable job then,’’ Paul said.

“He is an even better player now and he’s a different player with the national team than he is in the NBA.

“He gets to get loose, get going and be the player that he is.’’

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04/24/20

NAPLAN is over for another year – was there any damage done?

More than one million children across Australia sat the NAPLAN exams this week, including both of my own. Yesterday it was reading, today mathematics. Tomorrow it’s over for another two years.
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Sure there’s been the isolated stories about children getting stressed by the exams – one friend, a teacher, said it was “devastating” to have one of her Year 3 students cry throughout the whole exam – but on the whole, it seems to have gone off without a hitch.

And did it really hurt anyone that much? I know kids who were aggrieved they missed out on PE, others happy because they were treated to a post-NAPLAN milkshake, others who totally forgot it was on until they got to school.

I really don’t understand the fuss that NAPLAN causes each year. The main issue many people have with it is how the data is used to create league tables, giving us the ability to compare and contrast, and I guess ultimately, choose schools.

Does anyone know a parent who has actually done this? Do parents actually ignore things good schools offer, like a sense of community, facilities and co-curricular opportunities, a good principal, teachers who care, just because their NAPLAN ranking is high?

And, if you have any understanding of how the data is compiled and used, you’ll know that a ranking is based on a cohort, not a school. Get a good group of smart kids in the group and results will be skewed, and it works the other way too. A school’s ranking can jump around quite substantially year to year. What are we to go on? Most parents with any common sense won’t make any decision based on a league table.

The other problem people seem to have is when schools decide to teach to the tests. Another teacher friend said she barely has enough time to teach what’s in the National Curriculum, let alone spend a good couple of weeks preparing the children for NAPLAN. Perhaps she should look for another school. Or band together with her fellow teachers and tell the principal they’d rather not, thanks very much.

The one thing resulting from the NAPLAN discussion that gives me the most hope however is that for one week a year parents seem engaged in their child’s education. How many other tests, assignments and projects go unnoticed throughout the term?

If there’s one true indicator of a child’s chance of succeeding at school it’s the engagement of their parents. Building a relationship with your child’s teacher – who’ll have a much better idea than any standardised test about how your child is going – is paramount. Knowing what’s happening in class, who their friends are, what they did at break. How was music today? What’s the craziest thing you learned today? (Did you know what worms drink their own pee? Me neither, and I’m still not sure it’s true, because Google can lie you know Mum.) Never stop asking questions.

The best story to come out of my NAPLAN world was from a friend who lives in South Australia. She said their local primary school took the whole of Year 5 to a sleep over at the Adelaide Zoo on Tuesday night after the writing exam and got them back the next morning in time for reading.

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