Coalition bipartisan on treatment of Assange

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By , 08/08/2018 13:51

Opposition spokeswoman on foreign affairs Julie Bishop has affirmed bipartisan support for the government’s handling of Julian Assange’s circumstances. She said she accepted the assurances of US ambassador Jeffrey Bleich that the US government was not interested in extraditing the WikiLeaks publisher.
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Asked whether the Coalition considered WikiLeaks’ activities in obtaining and publishing secret US government documents amounted to journalism or espionage, Ms Bishop said the publication of information appeared “to fall within the realms of journalistic endeavour”.

But she added that the trial of US Army private Bradley Manning might “cast further light on whether WikiLeaks breached any US laws in obtaining that information”.

Mr Assange has lived at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for a year, having been granted diplomatic asylum on the grounds that he is at risk of extradition to the US on conspiracy or other charges relating to the leaking of classified information by Private Manning.

Swedish prosecutors wish to extradite Mr Assange to face questioning about sexual assault allegations made by two women in August 2010. Mr Assange claims that extradition to Sweden would facilitate his eventual extradition to the US.

Ms Bishop adopted the same lines as Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr, saying the Coalition was not aware of “any formal legal proceedings” involving Mr Assange other than those arising from the Swedish allegations.

“The US has extradition treaty arrangements with Sweden and the United Kingdom and is thus able to commence extradition proceedings in cases that meet appropriate criteria,” Ms Bishop said.

She said the Coalition was not aware of any extradition proceedings under way or any formal prosecutions in the US that could lead to Mr Assange’s extradition.

“The United States ambassador to Australia has stated publicly that the US government has no plans to extradite Mr Assange from Sweden. The Coalition is not aware of any evidence to the contrary.

“Given that ambassador Bleich has stated publicly that extraditing Mr Assange is “not something that the US cares about”, and the Coalition accepts that assurance, it is not appropriate to speculate about alternative scenarios.”

The US Justice Department has confirmed that a federal criminal investigation into WikiLeaks continues.

Ms Bishop disagreed with Mr Carr’s recent observation that there had been an “over-servicing” of Mr Assange’s consular case and said a Coalition government would “continue to ensure Mr Assange was provided with the same level of consular support as would be provided to any other Australian in trouble overseas”.

But the Coalition saw no role for the Australian government beyond routine consular contact because “there is no capacity for the Australian government to intervene or influence the judicial processes of another country”.

Ms Bishop said a Coalition government would make “appropriate representations”.

Ecuadorean foreign affairs minister Ricardo Patino met Ms Assange at the embassy in London on Sunday, and held talks with his British counterpart William Hague on Monday.

After the meetings Mr Patino said Ecuador would “ensure that [Mr Assange] continues with the protection we have given him under asylum in our country, protecting his life, his personal integrity, and particularly his freedom of expression”.

Britain has repeatedly said it has a legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden. Police remain outside the embassy, ready to arrest Mr Assange if he leaves.

The British Foreign Office said that while the two foreign ministers had agreed to establish an officials working group to seek a diplomatic resolution of Mr Assange’s circumstances, “no substantive progress was made”.

“The Foreign Secretary William Hague was clear once again that any resolution would need to be within the laws of the United Kingdom,” a Foreign Office spokesperson said.

Mr Assange has indicated he intends to run as a Senate candidate in Victoria for the newly formed WikiLeaks Party.

Party campaign manager Greg Barns said the Coalition and the government were “so entrenched with the United States view of the world that they are wilfully blind to what is clear from the Bradley Manning trial – and that is the United States is bent on extraditing Julian Assange”.

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

Roxon’s farewell: Don’t let naysayers define Labor

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By , 08/08/2018 13:51

Nicola Roxon delivers her valedictory speech at Parliament House on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares Treasurer Wayne Swan with Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Nicola Roxon after she delivered her valedictory speech on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares
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Outgoing Liberal MP Judi Moylan with Nicola Roxon after she delivered her valedictory on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares

Former Labor minister Nicola Roxon has given her farewell speech to Parliament, praising Julia Gillard as an “amazing Prime Minister” while cautioning the party not to allow its internal tensions to distract from its core mission.

Australia’s first female attorney-general also railed against continuing sexism in Australia, including the “crass” and “plain rude” behaviour that Ms Gillard has been subjected to for years.

As Labor continues to grapple with leadership tensions, Ms Roxon threw her support behind Ms Gillard, describing her as “an amazing Prime Minister, a great Labor leader and an impressive woman.”

“We should be proud of her and her work.”

But the Member for Gellibrand said she could not give her valedictory speech without acknowledging that it was a “hard time” for Labor.

“Even for true Labor believers there are times when it can feel frustrating.”

Ms Roxon issued a rallying call to Labor members and MPs, saying Labor was by its nature and causes “a party of optimists”.

“We can’t let the critics, the naysayers and the nasties define us,” she said. “The truth is, we might be down, but we’re not out.”

Acknowledging the party’s record on policies from Medicare to DisabilityCare Australia, Ms Roxon had a word of caution for her colleagues: “We’ve allowed internal tensions to overshadow our core mission for too long. We are a proud party with a proud record, now we need to start behaving like one.”

Ms Roxon, who was Australia’s first female Attorney-General, quit the front bench in a surprise move in February to spend more time with her young daughter. She also announced at the time that she would not recontest her Victorian seat of Gellibrand at the upcoming September election.

Ms Roxon, thanked her mother and husband Michael for their support during her ministerial career.

“Together, Michael and mum helped me manage a busy life as senior cabinet minister with a young child, the first woman to combine such roles.”

Despite celebrating some of Labor’s achievements for women – such as introducing paid parental leave – Ms Roxon said she could not help but “despair a bit on this front”.

“We have a capable, tough, smart, determined woman as our PM. Yet she had been subjected to some of the most crass, silly, petty, sexist and just plain rude behaviour for years.”

Talking of recent allegations about a degrading Defence email ring, Ms Roxon said there was a “dangerous underbelly” that still compromised women in Australia.

“The feminist cause in just as urgent as before.”

Ms Roxon, who was elected to Parliament in 1998, was health minister in the Rudd and Gillard governments before she became the first female attorney-general in December 2011.

The member for Gellibrand also said she “weirdly” needed to thank Opposition Leader Tony Abbott for providing the material for some of the most memorable moments of her political career.

This included the time he was late to a health policy debate during the 2007 election campaign and then swore at the then shadow health minister.

Ms Roxon also reminisced that her mother had once marched up to Kevin Rudd when he was prime minister and demanded that her daughter be given time off to get married.

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Ashley-Cooper fears Lions in wide, open spaces

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By , 08/08/2018 13:51

Dull, dreary and obsessed with the set piece … northern hemisphere sides generally come to Australian shores with a reputation for keeping it deathly simple on the rugby field.
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The British and Irish Lions have fit the stereotype in one regard. Their scrum and lineout has been a well-oiled machine since the tour began with a rout over the Barbarians and Western Force, before facing sterner competition against the Queensland Reds and Waratahs.

But it has been their willingness to swing the ball wide that has impressed and in some ways surprised the locals. Depending on how conservative Robbie Deans plays his hand, it could be the tourists that play the more expansive game on Saturday night in Brisbane.

Tour games are not Tests by any stretch but Wallaby centre Adam Ashley-Cooper has seen enough to suggest the Lions will be chancing their arm at Suncorp Stadium.

There will be an inevitable tightening of play as the stakes rise, particularly with the accuracy of their goal kickers, but Ashley-Cooper believes the same blueprint will largely apply to the Tests as it has to the tour matches.

“Their ability to spread the ball has been quite impressive. Obviously they’ve come out with a very physical and confrontational approach to the start of the game and have that ability to throw the ball wide,” Ashley-Cooper said.

“You wouldn’t think too much would change. It seems they’ve had a little bit of consistency in the way they’ve approached each game.

“With the wingers they have, George North, (Sean) Maitland, (Adam) Cuthbert, it would be silly not to get the ball to those guys.”

This would guarantee a busy night for Ashley-Cooper, who should be named at outside centre when the Wallabies reveal their team on Thursday.

“From a backs perspective, it’s going to be tough. You have to consider the physicality and their great ball-running forwards and also have to defend the width they are capable of achieving,” he said.

“But Test match football is all about physicality and intensity. It’s quite simple when it comes to strategy and game plan but when it comes to intensity, it’s some of the toughest football you’ll play. They certainly have the characters and the ability to do that.”

The Waratahs utility, who has finally found a permanent home under Michael Cheika, is hopeful of coming face-to-face with Irish great Brian O’Driscoll.

After initially thinking he’d never been on the same field, a laughing Ashley-Cooper eventually realised he had faced O’Driscoll twice; once at 2009 at Croke Park and again in the Rugby World Cup.

To be fair, on one of those occasions he was on the wing and the other at fullback.

“I’m pretty sure I haven’t played him at 13. I want to though.”

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

Buyers ready, willing for Abeles

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By , 10/03/2019 15:50

Sundorne, the former mansion of Sir Peter Abeles and his first wife, Claire Dan, sold for $15.5 million in May, making it Sydney’s third-most-expensive property at auction. The contents are being sold this Sunday and should attract just as much interest.Slice of life from 1960s going under the hammer
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The house is at 23 Victoria Street, Bellevue Hill. Its proximity to Cranbrook, the exclusive private school where the Packers, among others, were educated, gave rise to speculation that the school had bought the property and would transform it into a music centre.

Transport magnate Peter Abeles bought the house in 1958 and handed it to his wife when they separated in 1970. Dan died in October 2012 and indications are that nothing much has been changed inside since the early ’60s.

Andrew Shapiro, from Shapiro Auctioneers, compares the interior to a set from Mad Men.

Ashtrays are everywhere, as is leopard skin. This pattern was used for furniture as well as Dan’s own wardrobe. Her favourite leopard-skin coat and matching hat is included in the sale, with estimates of $500 to $800.

Shapiro has kept estimates low to stimulate bidding, and everything is available without reserve. There are 350 to 400 lots, with bargains literally in the basement – two 1954 bottles of Hardy’s Reserve Bin Show Port ($50 to $100) were in the wine cellar. Much of the time-capsule interior is back in vogue.

Shapiro suspects celebrated designer Marion Hall Best decorated the house about 1962. There’s an emphasis on Scandinavian wood panelling and wicker furniture, plus some Italian design, which includes a Fornasetti waste-paper bin ($200 to $300) and an Aldo Tura glazed decanter ($100 to $200).

The overall effect is eclectic. There are also some personal touches.

Bob Hawke table lamp

Abeles was a friend and supporter of prime minister Bob Hawke and there’s a reminder of this association in a hand-carved table lamp ($1000 to $1500) with Hawke portrayed as if after a long night.

”He was my closest friend, really,” Hawke told the ABC’s PM radio program shortly after Abeles died in 1999. He was one of the last to see him before he passed away. Abeles was not conscious, so he said goodbye by kissing him on the forehead.

Dan was a patron of the arts and her baby grand piano – made by Steinway & Sons, New York (numbered 89119) – is also for sale ($2000 to $3000). A feature of the sale is the extensive private collection of Judy Cassab paintings, including some portraits of Dan.

She and Abeles were strong supporters of Cassab throughout her career. Shapiro has noted that prices for her work have started to rise in the past year. There are about 30 examples throughout the house, with estimates from $500 to about $5000, plus sketches by Charles Blackman and illustrations by family friend George Molnar.

Lovers of vintage fashion will be attracted by Dan’s couture collection of Chanel, Chloe, YSL, Valentino, Jean Patou and Karl Lagerfeld, mainly bought in Europe. Most are estimated at about $300 to $500.

Celebrity auctions are usually very successful. Shapiro has chosen to stage the auction in situ, which attracts lots of stickybeaks, but encourages spontaneous bids from those who suddenly decide they want a piece of Eastern Suburbs history.

The estate of Sydney interior designer Leslie Walford was sold by Mossgreen last November and brought impressive results, with 97 per cent of the lots sold. Viewing was available at Walford’s penthouse apartment in Woollahra, which attracted ”an exceptional number of people”. Most of them also turned up at the auction at the Tim Olsen Gallery, which saw a $541,429 (including buyer’s premium) total, almost double the pre-sale estimates.

Expect the same on Sunday.

The auction will take place at 23 Victoria Road, Bellevue Hill. Viewing is on Friday (10am to 5pm), Saturday (10am to 5pm), and Sunday (9am to 11am). The auction starts at midday. For details, click here.

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

The pied pipers of Oz Opera

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By , 10/03/2019 15:50

OPERA would seem to be an unlikely entertainment for primary school children but Newcastle-born performers Ashley Giles and Alex Sefton have found that they enjoy it as much as adults.
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Giles and Sefton are trekking around NSW in a 50-minute adaptation of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute that is being staged by Opera Australia’s touring wing, Oz Opera.

The show will be staged at four Newcastle primary schools this week: at St Columban’s, Mayfield, and New Lambton South Primary today; and at St Joseph’s, Merewether, and Cardiff South Primary tomorrow.

In a second Hunter tour from August 26 to 30, The Magic Flute will play at primary schools at Newcastle East, Elermore Vale, Hamilton South, Gloucester, and St Mary’s, Scone.

Oz Opera, which has been touring NSW schools since 2000, expects 45,000 students to attend this year’s 230-plus performances.

The Magic Flute is an opera with elements of fairytale, with a prince, Tamino, and a bird-catcher, Papageno, joining forces to combat a mysterious and seemingly evil figure, Sarastro, and Tamino finding romance as the two men try to rescue princess Pamina, daughter of the Queen of the Night, from Sarastro and his cohorts.

The title flute is given to Tamino by a mysterious woman who tells him its music has the power to help him in moments of danger.

Ashley Giles is certainly familiar with The Magic Flute. This is the sixth production he has appeared in over 12 years for companies Opera Hunter, Newcastle Festival Opera, Opera Australia and Oz Opera.

He has done more than 1000 performances of the show, frequently as Papageno and sometimes in the chorus.

In the current Oz Opera schools production, he is one of seven actor-singers and alternates with other performers in the roles of Papageno and Sarastro.

Alex Sefton shares the role of Sarastro with him. While the two men grew up in the same city, they were involved in Newcastle musical theatre and opera at different times, and only met on the first day of rehearsals for this staging of The Magic Flute.

Ashley Giles graduated with a bachelor of music degree from Newcastle Conservatorium of Music in 2001 and relocated to Melbourne to study at the Victorian College of the Arts Opera Studio.

He has been based in Sydney since 2004 but has returned to Newcastle to appear in Newcastle Festival Opera productions of Cosi Fan Tutte, The Merry Widow and The Magic Flute directed by his Newcastle Conservatorium mentor, Ghillian Sullivan.

He played Papageno in the latter production, staged in 2009, winning a CONDA nomination for his performance. He was also CONDA-nominated the previous year for his Count Danilo in The Merry Widow.

Alex Sefton, who appeared during his school years in Tantrum Theatre productions, was persuaded by his singing teacher, Annabella Redman, to get stage experience in musical theatre productions after doing the HSC in 2004.

He played an Elvis Presley lookalike in Maitland Gilbert and Sullivan and Musical Society’s Bye, Bye Birdie in 2005, following up as one of the noblemen in the company’s Iolanthe the next year.

In 2009, he was accepted into the bachelor of music in classical voice course at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, then did the academy’s graduate diploma of music last year after graduating.

His membership of the Oz Opera The Magic Flute company is his first major employment since completing his academy studies, but his record while at that institution confirmed his talent.

He won third prize in the 2010 Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge vocal scholarship for 17-to-25-year-old classical singers, and was acclaimed for his leading role of Petruchio in the academy’s Australian premiere last year of a new opera version of The Taming of the Shrew, as well as for his singing as the title character in Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah.

A full-length Magic Flute runs for about three hours, so the 50-minute schools version has been heavily trimmed. But, as Ashley Giles notes, there are just five minutes of dialogue in the show, so the performers have to ensure that their singing and acting keep the young audience members attentive and happy.

Giles is used to accommodating changes to the opera. He has performed three different translations of the original German text and in many different venues.

However, appearing each day in different school and community halls means that those on stage have to quickly adjust to changed settings. And school children are among the most demanding of audiences.

Alex Sefton said young watchers ensured that the performers never lost focus, and were quick to voice their feelings if there was a lapse.

But he and Ashley Giles agreed that if those on stage put the necessary passion into their singing and acting, the children reacted enthusiastically, applauding loudly at the end and eagerly asking questions.

Sefton is looking forward nostalgically to the Newcastle school performances. He was a student at both New Lambton South and Hamilton South schools, and attended his first acting classes at the Hamilton South venue at age nine.

BIRD MAN: Ashley Giles as Papageno in The Magic Flute.

Kill rate at pound hits alarming high

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By , 10/03/2019 15:50

SHOCKED: Society of Companion Animal Rescuers’ David Atwell at the now-closed Kurri Kurri pound. Picture: Peter StoopDogs unleash terror on wombats
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HALF the dogs and cats handed in to the RSPCA’s Rutherford pound are killed, figures for the Cessnock local government area show.

Cessnock City Council released the figures following calls from animal welfare groups to make them public.

Councillors will consider the matter at a meeting on Wednesday night.

The RSPCA does not release statistics for its Rutherford shelter, which manages the pounds of Lake Macquarie, Newcastle, Cessnock and Maitland councils.

But Society of Companion Animal Rescuers vice-president David Atwell said the Cessnock data would be a good indication of the pound’s overall euthanasia rate.

A Cessnock council report said 152 of 490 dogs and 239 of 311 cats from its area were euthanised at the Rutherford pound in the 2012-13 financial year to date.

This represented an overall kill rate of 49 per cent.

‘‘It is by far the worst performing pound throughout the Hunter Valley, Central Coast, Sydney and other neighbouring regions,’’ Mr Atwell said.

‘‘It is akin to a slaughterhouse.’’

Other pounds that work with rescue groups achieved ‘‘far greater results’’, he said.

Mr Atwell said pounds in Sydney, Singleton, Taree and Gosford had euthanasia rates of 15 per cent or lower.

‘‘Wyong records about 12 per cent and Muswellbrook achieves the state’s best at 8 per cent,’’ he said.

An RSPCA statement said it proactively and willingly helped to ‘‘ensure the number of unwanted companion animals being euthanised every year is reduced’’.

‘‘Along with thousands of rescue groups, animal lovers and animal welfare organisations nationwide, the RSPCA believes the number of companion animals killed each year in Australia is appalling,’’ it said.

A Cessnock council report said the RSPCA worked with numerous rescue groups and had ‘‘released five dogs that originated from the Cessnock area’’ over the year.

‘‘The total number of dogs coming into care has reduced significantly, thanks in part to the efforts of council,’’ it said.

The council report said many euthanised cats had ‘‘a disease or medical condition’’.

Mr Atwell said the kill rate had been better at the council’s old Kurri Kurri pound.

The Companion Animals Act states that before destroying a seized or surrendered animal, councils must consider alternatives.

Huff and puff as Alan Jones leads wind farm protest

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By , 10/03/2019 15:50

Broadcaster Alan Jones at the anti-wind farm rally out the front of Parliament House in Canberra on June 18. Photo: Alex EllinghausenIt was a quiet rally by Alan Jones’ normally rambunctious standards.
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Fittingly quiet, considering the protest was over wind farms.

Some people, including much of the scientific community, view the gentle whoosh of turbines as basically harmless while others insist they are an ultrasonic threat to public health and a massive drain on the taxpayer through government subsidies.

The 150-or so people who turned up on the front lawn of Parliament to greet Mr Jones were firmly in the second camp.

The Sydney shock jock, whose last trip to Canberra was the headline-grabbing – if also thin on numbers – “convoy of no confidence”, was delayed an hour by fog at Canberra airport, according to organisers.

“There aren’t a lot of people here,” he acknowledged, taking the stage in the Canberra cold. “They don’t have the time, they don’t have the resources to be able to make the kind of statement they want to make.”

Mr Jones said if there was no health risk posed by turbines, they should be put on Parramatta Road or outside his apartment on Macquarie Street, Sydney.

He took aim at the economics of wind power. “If it is as good as they say it is then, obviously, it doesn’t need our money to subsidise it,” he said. Adding: “This is absurd for a country that’s broke.”

The protest group, drawn mainly from concerned resident groups from country NSW, held placards including, “we are wind refugees” and “stop the spin”.

There were differing views between individual protesters and some of the speakers.

A woman held a placard behind Queensland senator Ron Boswell urging “yes solar, no wind farms”.

At the same time, senator Boswell was lambasting “fraudulent” renewables of all kinds.

“The world belongs to those who turn up and today you have turned up and you are going to make your opposition to this fraudulent wind, solar power, renewable energy … heard,” he said.

Senator Boswell, a National Party member, called the 20 per cent renewable energy target, which the Coalition is committed to along with Labor, as “ridiculous”.

“The wind farms only work 30 per cent of the time, but when you really need the power, in the peak periods, it’s only about eight per cent of the time. So it doesn’t work. In anyone’s language it is just a fraud,” he said.

Organisers of the event included Max Rheese of the Australian Environment Foundation, a front group for the right-aligned, climate sceptic Institute of Public Affairs.

A pro-wind rally held in Canberra’s city centre at the same time drew a larger crowd of up to 500, according to organisers.

Greens leader Christine Milne said the party wanted to see a “100 per cent renewable” target as soon as possible.

“What is extraordinary is wind farm sickness only affects people who speak English. How come the Danes, Spanish and Germans don’t suffer from wind farm sickness?” she asked.

“The renewable industry is providing a solution to greenhouse gas emissions as well as providing new jobs, new industries and giving a better future for our children.”

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

Live: Socceroos v Iraq

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By , 10/03/2019 15:50

. jim morrison
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Having fun yet? Photo: Getty Images

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World Cup, you say? Photo: Getty Images

After years watching his beloved Dunfermline play in the Scottish leagues, Jim Morrison brings his unique understanding of Route One football to Sydney as the Socceroos look to book a ticket to the World Cup in Brazil. A win is good enough.

Well, yes. And here we go again.

Welcome to the blog for tonight’s vital World Cup qualifier between the Socceroos and Iraq at ANZ Stadium. Vital, you say? How so? Well, where would you rather be in 12 months’ time – shivering away in your two-bedroom terrace at Bondi Junction or whooping it up in Rio de Janiero at the biggest carnival in world sport?

Because Australia are 90 minutes away from a seat at that most exclusive of parties for a third successive time.

Having experienced the highs of Germany in ‘06 and the not-so-highs (but better there than square) of South Africa in 2010, non attendance at Brazil does not bear thinking about.

The good news is that qualification is in Australia’s hands tonight. Win against Iraq, and we’re on the plane to Rio. That’s all ye know and all ye need to know.

With that in mind, I’d like to present myself to Fairfax’s managing sports editors for active service in Brazil next winter. A tough assignment but I’m willing to take this one for the team.

I’m also 34 years of age – so would fit in nicely with the dad’s army Holger Osieck has assembled.

In all seriousness, the old heads in Osieck’s squad – Lucas Neill, Mark Schwarzer, Mark Bresciano et al – are exactly what’s required for this type of occasion. They’ve been there and done that, having come through the nerve-shredding play-off against Uruguay in 2005 and then the professionally accomplished qualification campaign four years later. There are bound to be a few butterflies at the outset tonight given the high stakes, but this is a transitional and inexperienced Iraqi side which Australia should really be able to take care of.

Indeed, some may say that if the Socceroos cannot beat FIFA’s 98th-ranked team, at home, in front of 80,000 fans, with a place at the World Cup up for grabs, they do not deserve to be there at all… I’m not one of them, but am confidently tipping an Australian victory tonight and a repeat of these famous scenes in 2005:

That’s just my my prediction though – what do you think the outcome will be tonight? cast your vote in our poll or leave a comment at the right.

As noted before, this is a young Iraqi side about which not a great deal is known. By me, anyway. But Fairfax columnist Craig Foster posted an analysis of Iraq’s tactical approach that makes A Brief History of Time look like a kids’ pop-up book earlier this afternoon. Essential reading if, like me, your tactical appreciation starts begins and ends with the long ball. Well, I did grow up watching Dunfermline.

Here’s some more pre-match reading and viewing: Sebastian Hassett on the history of Australia’s World Cup qualification campaigns, with plenty of old footage to get you in the mood, including – apologies – heartbreak against Scotland in 1985.

Fairfax’s attacking triumvirate of Sebastian Hassett, Dominic Bossi and Michael Lynch are covering the big one tonight. Seb has just informed me it’s absolute madness on the trains on the way to ANZ Stadium. If you were planning on leaving it late to get to the venue, don’t bother….

#GREENANDGOLD as far as the eye can see @ANZStadium. Just over an hour til the #AUSvIRQ decider #GoSocceroospic.twitter南京夜网/Uq1XzCAuNH— ANZ Stadium (@ANZStadium) June 18, 2013

As usual in these situations, there are a few different potential scenarios. The easiest equation is that a Socceroos victory = qualification, but here’s a round-up of all the eventualities. If the Socceroos lose tonight, make sure you’ve got your calculator handy while watching the Jordan-Oman match in the early hours of tomorrow morning…

Australia will secure direct qualification if:– They beat Iraq. – They draw with Iraq and Oman fail to win against Jordan in Amman. – They lose to Iraq and Jordan beat Oman with a combined goal difference of fewer than 15 goals.

Australia will finish third and face two play-offs if: – They draw or lose to Iraq and Oman defeat Jordan.– They lose to Iraq and Jordan beat Oman with a combined goal difference of 15. – They lose to Iraq by eight goals and Oman draw with Jordan.

Australia cannot finish lower than third in Group B.

Iraq are fifth, out of contention for a place in the World Cup and cannot finish higher than fourth.

Jordan host Oman at the King Abdullah International Stadium, Amman, at 2am Wednesday, Sydney time.

In the event of a third-placed finish, Iran or Uzbekistan from Group A are the likeliest opponents in the Asian leg of the play-off.

There remains a slim chance of a nightmare clash against South Korea, before a showdown with the likes of Uruguay, Venezuela or Peru … but plenty of water has to go under the bridge before we have to start contemplating that one. Let’s just get the job done tonight, eh?

Kick-off is fast approaching. Fozzie has summed up the feeling around the country better than I ever could in under 144 characters…

Best wishes to everyone, in this together. Players, fans, coaches, volunteers, administrators. Fingers crossed for Oz football— Craig Foster (@Craig_Foster) June 18, 2013

Reports Jason Culina announced at a pre-match function that he’s hanging up his boots:

[email protected] champion Jason Culina has announced his retirement from football. Great career, the end of which was crueled by injury— Sebastian Hassett (@sebth) June 18, 2013

Anthems. Here come the teams. Iraq’s national anthem respectfully observed by the home crowd – as urged by Lucas Neill pre-match – before a spine-tingling, hairs-on-back-of-neck rendition of Advance Australia Fair. ANZ Stadium a veritable sea of green and gold. Get intae them, as we say in Scotland…

Kick-off. Iraq get the game under way.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Hungry Lions eschew usual miserly approach to feed speedsters out wide

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By , 10/02/2019 20:10

Dull, dreary and obsessed with the set piece … northern hemisphere sides generally come to Australian shores with a reputation for keeping it deathly simple on the rugby field.
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The British and Irish Lions have fit the stereotype in one regard. Their scrum and lineout has been a well-oiled machine since the tour began with a rout over the Barbarians and Western Force, before facing sterner competition against the Queensland Reds and Waratahs.

But it has been their willingness to swing the ball wide that has impressed and in some ways surprised the locals. Depending on how conservatively Robbie Deans plays his hand, it could be the tourists that play the more expansive game on Saturday night in Brisbane.

Tour games are not Tests by any stretch but Wallabies centre Adam Ashley-Cooper has seen enough to suggest the Lions will be chancing their arm at Suncorp Stadium.

There will be an inevitable tightening of play as the stakes rise, particularly with the accuracy of their goalkickers, but Ashley-Cooper believes the same blueprint will largely apply to the Tests as it has to the tour matches.

”Their ability to spread the ball has been quite impressive. Obviously they’ve come out with a very physical and confrontational approach to the start of the game and have that ability to throw the ball wide,” Ashley-Cooper said.

”You wouldn’t think too much would change. It seems they’ve had a little bit of consistency in the way they’ve approached each game.

”With the wingers they have, George North, [Sean] Maitland, [Alex] Cuthbert, it would be silly not to get the ball to those guys.”

This would guarantee a busy night for Ashley-Cooper, who should be named at outside centre  on Thursday.

”From a backs perspective, it’s going to be tough. You have to consider the physicality and their great ball-running forwards and also have to defend the width they are capable of achieving,” he said.

”But Test match football is all about physicality and intensity. It’s quite simple when it comes to strategy and game plan but when it comes to intensity, it’s some of the toughest football you’ll play.”

The Waratahs utility, who has  found a permanent home under Michael Cheika, is hopeful of coming face-to-face with Irish great Brian O’Driscoll.

After  thinking he’d never been on the same field,  Ashley-Cooper eventually realised he had faced O’Driscoll twice; once in 2009 at Croke Park and again in the Rugby World Cup. ”I’m pretty sure I haven’t played him at 13,” he said. ”I want to though.”

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

I won’t coach Melbourne: Woosha

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By , 10/02/2019 20:10

John Worsfold says he will not apply for the vacant coaching job at Melbourne.John Worsfold will not coach Melbourne next season.
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The West Coast premiership coach, out of contract at the end of this season and installed as one of the bookmakers’ favourites to take over the toughest job in the AFL, ruled himself out of contention to take on the vacant Demons post today.

Worsfold did, however, still refuse to commit to the Eagles beyond 2013. And while he did not completely rule out taking on a role with a rival club, that appears to be unlikely.

”I’m not really interested in whether my name is there or not,” Worsfold said. ”It’s one of those non-event things.

”You can put my name there, but I don’t know… if someone is thinking about putting money on me, I can tell them to save their money.

”I haven’t thought about it; haven’t thought about the Melbourne job being available… No, let’s rule myself out – let’s do that!”

Worsfold, who will coach the Eagles for the 271st time on Friday night when they take on Hawthorn at Etihad Stadium, is yet to decide whether he will continue on at the helm of West Coast beyond 2013.

When asked if he would coach anywhere other than the Eagles, the former West Coast premiership captain said: ”The main thing I’m clear on is not whether I’ll coach on here at the Eagles, but that I’ll talk about my contract at the end of the year.”

Mark Neeld was sacked by the Melbourne board on Monday.

He leaves the Demons with a record of five wins from 33 games. They have won just one game this season, by 41 points to Greater Western Sydney in round four.

More damning than the win-loss record though is the eight losses this season by 10 goals or more – four by 15 goals or more.

Worsfold said that he had felt sorry for him.

”I’ve felt for him for the last 18 months and spoken to him a few times to offer support,” Worsfold said.

”I think we all know what he’s been through and a lot of it is not of his own making and I think he’s handled it fairly well. He’ll enjoy a bit of a break before he decides which direction to throw himself back into.”

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

Van Egmond excited to co-captain Matildas

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By , 10/02/2019 20:10

RESPONSIBILITY: Emily van Egmond played a key role against New Zealand. Picture: Getty ImagesWHEN Newcastle’s Emily van Egmond celebrates her 20th birthday next month, chances are she will still be pinching herself.
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Van Egmond was last week given the co-captaincy of the Matildas for two international friendly wins over New Zealand in Canberra.

Australia defeated New Zealand 1-0 on Thursday night then 4-2 on penalties after a 1-all regulation-time result on Sunday to claim the Centenary Cup.

Van Egmond scored one of the penalties on Sunday and was a key member of new Dutch coach Hesterine de Reus’s first two Matildas line-ups, which are built around playing an uptempo, possession-based style.

She anchored midfield and provided the vital link between defence and attack on the pitch.

However, it is clear de Reus views van Egmond as a long-term senior figure on and off the field after asking her to step into the co-captaincy breach left by the late withdrawal from the New Zealand matches of former Novocastrian Kate Gill due to a hamstring injury.

De Reus named Gill, a former Newcastle Jet, and Clare Polkinghorne as the new Matildas captains last month.

For van Egmond, who had only 16 caps for Australia, the call to replace Gill came out of the blue.

‘‘It was really exciting,’’ van Egmond said.

‘‘It was a different role for me, but it was good.

‘‘I was completely shocked.’’

The honour put the teenager in the elite company of Cheryl Salisbury, Joanne Peters and Alison Forman as Novocastrians to lead the Matildas.

But there is little time for van Egmond to savour the moment.

She will be part of the Australian squad that departs next week for a tour of Europe which will include games against the Netherlands on June 29, Dutch club side ADO Den Haag on July 2 and France on July 6.

The Jets midfielder believes the close wins over the Kiwis will hold the Matildas in good stead.

‘‘It was a good test for us under the new coach, our first internationals, and New Zealand were really, really good,’’ she said.

‘‘I was impressed with how they played. They’ve improved a lot.

‘‘We’re obviously learning a new structure now and way to play, and it’s not familiar to everyone yet, but I think once we play a bit more and have a better understanding of it, I think we will do well.’’

After the tour, van Egmond is expected to link with Seattle Reign FC in the National Women’s Soccer League.

The winner of last season’s W-League goal of the year played in the elite US competition in 2012 with Western New York Flash, who she helped reach the grand final.

As for a return to Newcastle after that for the next W-League season, van Egmond was unsure where she would playing.

TOPICS: Reliving light rail

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By , 10/02/2019 20:10

MAKING A COMEBACK: Trams first started running in Newcastle in 1887. It is possible we will see trams clattering back to our streets again. SPOILT: Kookaburra at Eleebana.
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COFFINS, dust and waiting rooms – Newcastle’s trams had it all.

And with the possibility of trams clattering back to life, here are some snippets from the city’s first go at light rail.

The hearse tram

In 1896, when the network was nine years old, the government introduced a hearse tram that connected with funeral trains at Honeysuckle.

According to Tramways of Newcastle, by David Keenan, Ken McCarthy and Ross Wilson, the hearse car held three coffins, and was finished with ‘‘highly polished dark wood’’.

Waiting rooms

Busy stops were fitted with waiting rooms, which were wooden shelters fitted out with lights and bench seats.

Community anger over dust particles

Sound familiar? Passengers on the Adamstown and Mayfield lines were, by 1901, having to wipe down their dust-coated seats.

The problem stemmed from crushed sandstone being used as a road surface. Following pressure from locals, the authorities ran sprinkler cars to hose it down.

One for the road

SPOTTED by a reader: a car for sale at City Road, Merewether, with a sweetener.

“Free beer when you buy this car for $3200”.

Friendly natives

IT’s not just possums that pop up in backyards for alfresco dining (Topics, June 18).

Graham and Jenny Parsons, of Eleebana, have a visitor who dines with them twice a day.

‘‘Every morning at about 7am and every afternoon at about 4pm, ‘Kookie’ the female laughing kookaburra arrives at our back doorstep and expects to be fed,’’ says Graham.

‘‘My wife sits on the step with her and passes her diced raw kangaroo and beef pieces, which we buy in the dog food section of the supermarket.’’

Kookie, says Graham, gently takes the pieces from Jenny’s fingers. When she’s guzzled about a dozen she perches in the neighbour’s gum tree awhile, then flies off.

Other kookaburras and magpies drop in for a feed and gobble meat the Parsons toss their way, but they’re shier than Kookie.

Raymond Caves’s yard in Mayfield is home to a family of red wattle birds.

They seem happy to share a bottlebrush tree with neighbouring lorikeets, but not magpies or Indian mynas.

‘‘They’ll even chase crows,’’ says Raymond.

‘‘They’re a bit like F-18s – they can swoop and turn at all sorts of angles.’’

Bruce Kidd, meanwhile, is pleased that locals are making wild friends, but wants everyone to be careful.

‘‘Please do not over-feed them,’’ says Bruce.

‘‘They still need to maintain the ability to forage for themselves.’’

Apparently fruit’s a better meal for possums than bread.

Accounting for taste

RECENTLY at a restaurant, munching through a Mexican-style salad, Topics performed a quick inventory of the meal.

Radish. Avocado. Cabbage, beans and chillies. Wait a minute. Didn’t we used to hate those things?

Into the imaginary trolley of things that were ‘‘gross’’ during childhood, we’d also throw spinach, olives and the entire seafood family except fish sticks, which we can now barely stomach.

Funny how your tastes change.

What did you hate as a kid, dear reader, that you’ve grown to like?

GREG RAY: Rail transition needs to be seamless

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By , 10/02/2019 20:10

LIGHT rail from Wickham to Newcastle station is OK with me, on one small condition.
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That is, I wouldn’t like to see them stop the heavy rail until the light rail is ready to go.

It would be a bad result to have the heavy rail out, then hear the government say that we would have to wait until funds were available from the privatisation of the Port of Newcastle before the light rail could follow.

That would be a bad result because, well, shucks, what if the government was to say in future that it didn’t get quite as much money as it needed from the sale and now the light rail thing wasn’t possible any more?

Or that, good golly, now we need that money to buy votes to win an important seat in Western Sydney and the Newcastle light rail has to go in the pie-in-the-sky forward estimates forever.

Just saying …

So, yep, sounds like we’ve got a plan to move the city forward and give everybody a bit of what they want. But let’s make sure the whole plan gets done.

Borrow the money, if you have to, to get the light rail happening, and repay the loan when you sell the port authority. That shouldn’t be a big deal, to keep everybody sweet.

Do that, and the O’Farrell government might yet be remembered as the one that finally found a workable compromise solution to the knotty and seemingly endless argument over Newcastle, its rail line and its connection with its harbour front.

And I will be among the first to applaud.

It’s not lost on me, of course, that this is another instance where Newcastle can’t seem to get state money spent on it without having to furnish the funds itself, one way or another.

We can’t have money out of consolidated revenue, because that belongs to Sydney. But if something of ours gets sold, we can have a portion of the proceeds. Same old story.

But I’m not inclined to be too churlish about that right now. At least they aren’t just planning to pocket the lot.

While we are talking about fair deals, though, how about that harbour-front land?

Remember how former minister for the Hunter, Jodi McKay, promised to stop the Hunter Development Corporation extending its “Great Wall” around the Wickham corner if the heavy rail got cut?

That beautiful big parcel of land on the harbour, just opposite Stewart Avenue, is the one we’re talking about. Can we have a handshake on Jodi’s deal?

Well, what about it, Libs?

And if the Port Corporation is sold, what happens to Nobbys?

About time it came under the control of the city, I reckon. Time to transfer it to Newcastle ownership, along with an annual budget to look after it.

Seems to me there ought to be a bit of loose change left from the port sale.

The government reckons it will earn about $700million from the deal and it reckons the light rail conversion will cost $340million.

That leaves another $360million, more than enough to give the art gallery a leg-up, I’d say, and refurbish the old Post Office too.

As for selling the port, or at least a long lease over it, I’m not sure if there is a downside.

It might even be positive.

Maybe in private hands the port corporation would be in a better position to compete for non-coal business, which the government has never seemed keen to have located in Newcastle.

Remember how the Obeid-Tripodi government (I forget which one of their premiers was warming the seat at the time) stopped car importers putting a terminal here?

The government forced the importers to walk away from their preferred Newcastle option in favour of Port Kembla, for political reasons.

And they’ve never wanted us to have a container terminal either, and that’s something a private operator might change.

Depends on the fine print, I suppose, as it always does.

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