Trampoline gymnasts to represent Hunter on the world stage Bulgaria bound: Shaun Swadling, Brett Austine and Blake Rutherford watch Jessica Pickering in the air. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Bulgaria bound: Shaun Swadling, Brett Austine and Blake Rutherford watch Jessica Pickering in the air. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Bulgaria bound: Shaun Swadling, Brett Austine and Blake Rutherford watch Jessica Pickering in the air. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Bulgaria bound: Shaun Swadling, Brett Austine and Blake Rutherford watch Jessica Pickering in the air. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

TweetFacebook Up, up and away!HUNTER athletes are taking their dreams of success sky high, by preparing to soar up to eight metres into the air during the Trampoline Gymnastics WorldChampionshipsin Bulgaria.

National coach for Gymnastics Australia’s trampoline team and Belmont High physical education teacher Brett Austine left the country on Mondaywith Marks Point Public teacher Shaun Swadling and Blake Rutherford.

Mr Swadling and Mr Rutherford will participate in a four day training camp before competition begins on November 9.

Bulgaria bound: Shaun Swadling, Brett Austine and Blake Rutherford watch Jessica Pickering in the air. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Belmont High year 10 student, Jessica Pickering, will leave next week to compete in the under 17’s section of the World Age Group Competition, also to be held in Bulgaria.

“I consider trampolining to be one of the toughest sports you could enter,” Mr Austine said.

“What you do once in diving you’ve got to do 10 times in a row without a break in trampolining.

“These athletes are training six days a week and are either full time students or working to chase their dreams and have an international career.”

Mr Swadling and Mr Rutherford will each perform two routines in the qualifying rounds, in the hope of making it through to the semi finals and the top eight for the final.

“They will be marked on time aflight, how accurately they keep to the middle of the trampoline, degree of difficulty and execution,” he said.

“They will have 60 seconds to start the first rotation and will then get 10 contacts with the mat and have to show 10 different skills.”

Jessica will also perform two routines in the qualifying round in the hoping of making it straight through to the final.

“All of her 10 moves are at least a double somersault with a half twist.”

Adelaide United are one of Melbourne Victory’s biggest rivals, but Victory boss Kevin Muscat will be forgiven this week for looking over the border at them for some inspiration.

His side’s failure to beat Central Coast Mariners on Sunday night – Victory were lucky to escape from Gosford with a point – means last season’s grand finalists have made their worst start to an A-League campaign.

Muscat’s side is winless in four games and has drawn twice, giving it a miserly two points from a possible 12.

Already Victory are in danger of falling too far off pace-setting Melbourne City and defending champions Sydney.

City have 12 points, with four wins from four matches. Sydney have 10 points.

That’s where Adelaide United come in. In season 2015-16 Adelaide failed to win until December, nine rounds into the season. Yet by the end of that campaign the Reds had topped the table, hosted the grand final and wore their first champions crown.

Adelaide had taken three points out of a possible 24 and had a goal difference of minus 10 before they scraped a 1-0 win over Perth Glory on December 6, 2015.

After that they went on an extraordinary run where they lost only once more, won 13 other games and finished a point clear at the top ahead of Western Sydney.

That said, Muscat and the Victory faithful will be wanting something to happen quickly.

So far Victory have looked stodgy through the midfield and lacking in purpose going forward.

Had it not been for two inspirational actions from Dutch import Leroy George their season would have looked far worse.

His free kick to set up Besart Berisha’s opening header in Adelaide in a 2-2 draw was a perfect example of how to deliver a threatening set-piece, while his free kick from distance on Sunday night against the Mariners rescued a point for the visitors.

Muscat will point to the opening two games – home defeats by a single goal to Sydney and Melbourne City – and argue that his side was unlucky not to get something out of either fixture.

But things will get tougher for the Melbourne Cup eve fixture against Western Sydney, as Victory will be without some of their key players through suspension and international call-ups.

Kosta Barbarouses will be away with New Zealand for their World Cup play-off against Peru, while James Troisi will be absent with the Socceroos as they try to see off Honduras, their final obstacle to a place in Russia 2018.

Berisha is still suspended, having picked up a two-game ban for putting his hands on a match official in Adelaide.

The only silver lining is that Mark Milligan will be allowed to play in the November 6 match in Melbourne even though the Socceroos captain is suspended from the first leg of the tie against Honduras, which will be played in Central America on November 10.

Victory’s main problem, as Muscat identified in the wake of Sunday’s draw, is that that they are not imposing themselves on games enough.

The lack of continuity in the forward third, with Troisi, Milligan and Barbarouses on international duty, has meant Victory are not playing with the attacking cohesion they had in previous seasons.

“We started off very sloppy in possession of the ball, going backwards, taking the easy option instead of going forwards,” Muscat said after the Mariners draw.

“We have to be honest with ourselves. There are two reasons why you do that … you are not confident in yourself to pass the ball forward or the people in front of you are not moving.

“Our quality when it counted was just a little bit lacking, it was off.”

He is taking solace from the fact that Victory have at least picked up two points on the road in their last two games but knows that there should be a lot more to come from this squad.

It’s too early to talk of a crisis, as the Adelaide example of a few years ago shows. Poor starts can be overcome.

But Victory need to get their skates on if they want to be a significant player this season, or City and Sydney may well be too far ahead for Victory to entertain thoughts of a top two position.

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Beersheba: On the plains to the south-east of Be’er Sheba, a young boy’s donkey stands stubbornly in a field, as its rider whacks at its flanks.

Behind him in a gully, a flock of camels wanders up the banks of a stream.

And in the distance, dust flies up in the wake of a horseman, galloping across the Negev desert, a tiny echo of a turning point in history.

One hundred years ago, this was the scene of an astonishing moment in the ANZAC story. It sits sandwiched between the coming-of-age tragedy of Gallipoli, and the grinding horror of the Western Front, and many only dimly remember the heroics of Beersheba, possibly the last great cavalry charge, probably Australia’s first great military victory.

Hamish Gibbons, lieutenant colonel in the New Zealand army, looks down at the plains and tries to picture how it was.

“The actual charge was quite an audacious plan,” he says. “It was not what the enemy would have thought anyone would have tried, not how the war had been fought.

“I can only imagine what would have been playing on the minds of the troops.”

The 800 light horsemen, 6km south-east of Beersheba, had ridden their Australian ‘Waler’ horses through the desert night to get into position for the charge. They would have been tired and dehydrated, and then faced a long wait for their do-or-die moment.

Their Anzac allies cleared the way, taking a Turkish machine gun emplacement on a hill that could have picked them off as they charged (this vital New Zealand contribution to Australia’s proud moment is often underplayed).

And then, mid-afternoon, they formed up and charged, first at a trot, then finally at a gallop as the Beersheba defenders woke too late to the threat, then melted away within hours in the face of the ferocious attack.

Through the machine gun fire and artillery to victory.

“It was very brave, very audacious, and ultimately successful,” says Lt-Col Gibbons. “Unlike the Western Front, they could fight the sort of battle that they wanted to fight.”

Historian Jonathan King is part of a recreation of that charge, a group of 100 men and women who wanted to honour the Anzacs by walking in their footsteps – or hoofprints.

“The whole point is to bring history to life,” said King, whose great-grandfather was among the soldiers in the original assault on the town.

“This great cavalry charge at Beersheba 100 years ago turned the tide of the war in Palestine, but very few Australians know about it. This was one of the greatest moments in Australian history and it should be a celebrated cornerstone of our culture and national identity.”

The victory also created the conditions for the foundation of the modern state of Israel – which the locals have not forgotten, King said.

King and his comrades have donned the full World War One uniform – “which I might say is really hot”, right down to the slouch hats with the emu plumes, and found local horses to play the part of the old Australian ones. They have followed the whole three-day track of the original regiment, which patiently circled the town to attack from the less-defended south.

“It is different now – we are coming in from the desert, so there hasn’t been a lot of development in a century,” says King. “But there’s the huge city of Be’er Sheva in the background.

“You’ve got to close your eyes, and in your mind just try and visualise what it would have been like.”

“We ignore the buildings and think that we’re doing what they would have loved us to do, the troopers, especially the 31 killed.”

The re-creation hasn’t been smooth sailing. The Israeli horses are frisky, and their riders not exactly battle-hardened. The 3-day journey through the desert has taken a toll.

On Tuesday afternoon, their moment will come, as part of a day of commemoration attended by the prime ministers of Australia and Israel.

“We are like the WW1 troopers thirsty, covered in dust, saddle sore and tired,” says King.

“But the morale is very high, we are all conscious that we are bringing history to life and honouring the troopers who made history with that great charge

“To me personally it will be spine-chilling.”

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All future free trade agreements would be vetted by the Productivity Commission and re-examined every 10 years under a new Labor policy that has won endorsement from business organisations.
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Unveiling the policy at a function hosted by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Labor trade spokesman Jason Clare said the public was sceptical about the China, Korea and Japan trade agreements in part because they hadn’t been subject to an independent arms-length assessment outlining what they would mean for jobs and incomes.

“At the moment, once a free trade agreement is signed a report is prepared by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade outlining why it is in Australia’s national interest. That’s it,” he said.

“Given all the scepticism that exists, I don’t think it’s good enough to rely on a report from the same people who negotiated the deal. It should be independently assessed.”

Australia signed the giant 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement with the United States without the benefit of any independent analysis of its economic effects. The government published a report commissioned by the Department of Foreign Affairs on the combined economic effects of China, Korea and Japan free trade agreements, but did not allow other parts of government to independently analyse them.

The Productivity Commission has been scathing about the latest series of agreements, arguing that they grant legal rights to foreign investors not available to Australians, expose the government to potentially large unfunded liabilities and impose extra costs on businesses attempting to comply with them.

The Commission says that by favouring some countries over others and excluding firms sourcing substantial inputs from overseas, they “add to the complexity of international trade and investment, are costly and time-consuming to negotiate and add to the compliance costs of firms and administrative costs of governments.”

Appearing before a parliamentary inquiry, Commission chairman Peter Harris said without a genuinely independent analysis before deals were signed, the consensus in favour of open trade would crumble.

The analysis should first identify the problem that the trade agreement was designed to solve, find the lowest-cost means of solving that problem and then make clear the costs the proposed agreement would impose on business.

It should be conducted before negotiations begin, and again in the four or so months after they have concluded but before the deal is ratified.

The Korea-Australia agreement included 5200 separate so-called rules of origin delineating which inputs could be included in an export in order for it to have preferential treatment. It was “red tape, growing at a very healthy rate,” Mr Harris said.

Mr Clare also promised that the Commission would conduct an independent review of each agreement ten years after ratification. The department told the parliamentary inquiry that to the best of its knowledge none of the agreements signed by Australia had been assessed by Australia after the event. A review of the US-Australia agreement conducted by the Australian National university 10 years after ratification found it had not boosted trade at all.

The Chamber’s director of international trade, Bryan Clark said Labor had embraced, not only the Chamber’s position but also the recommendations of the parliament’s joint standing committee on treaties and the Senate foreign affairs and trade committee. The Business Council said Labor’s proposal was “worth considering”.

Trade Minister Steven Ciobo said Australia already had measures in place to test the effectiveness of its agreements. There was rigorous oversight by the joint standing committee on treaties, which included Labor politicians.

Follow Peter Martin on Twitter and Facebook

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Minister Julie Bishop with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Minisyer Christopher Pyne during question time at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday 16 August 2017. Fedpol. Photo: Andrew Meares Acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop has conceded some decisions taken before former ministers Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash were disqualified are being re-examined to ensure they are legally sound, even as Mr Joyce dared Labor to mount a court challenge.
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But Ms Bishop denied the decisions in question amounted to more than just a few.

Mr Joyce, who is fighting for the New England seat he thought he’d won in July 2016, claimed he was legitimately able to sit in the parliament and was fully empowered to make decisions as a cabinet minister right up until the moment the court ruled otherwise.

But lawyers engaged by the ALP have taken a different view, advising there was a high likelihood that the work the ineligible pair has done over the past year will end up before the courts.

The stand-off means further litigation over the government’s actions is possible, even assuming Mr Joyce is returned, as expected, in the December 2 byelection.

As a senator, Ms Nash has lost her position, with that prize going to the next elected candidate in the NSW senate race, expected to be Liberal Hollie Hughes.

However, in another potential headache for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Ms Hughes’ likely promotion has touched off a bitter factional war, with the NSW right incensed, claiming her preselection had been “farcical”.

There have also been dark warnings that as a recently appointed member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, she may have her own constitutional problems after becoming a Commonwealth employee.

As the government’s pain lingers, pressure is mounting on Mr Turnbull to release the legal advice he used to justify keeping Mr Joyce and Ms Nash in cabinet after their dual citizenship put them in conflict with the sole allegiance requirement set out in section 44 of the constitution.

It was during this period that the ministerial decisions now being reviewed were made..

With that legitimacy cloud, opinion polls moving in the wrong direction, and tensions flaring within, Ms Bishop moved to reassure Coalition MPs that the situation was recoverable, noting that there was still 18 months to go before the next election.

Her comments were an attempt to steady the listing Turnbull ship after last Friday’s bombshell High Court ruling in which five parliamentarians, including the two cabinet ministers – both Nationals – were ejected.

An internecine war of words has broken out within the Coalition, as angry Liberals grumble about their junior partner’s administrative shortcomings that began with three Nationals cabinet ministers being hauled before the nation’s top court and ended in the government’s humiliation, its absolute majority extinguished.

Amid the backbiting, Mr Joyce reminded Liberals that it was the Nationals who retained their seats and added one at the 2016 election while the Liberals went backwards, reducing the Coalition’s majority to a single seat.

“We were just getting clear air over energy before this,” said one frustrated minister, conceding that last week’s “politicised” union raids were another “unhelpful distraction”.

Of the three ministers before the High Court, only Senator Matt Canavan’s election was upheld despite the fact that he was the only one of the trio to resign his ministry pending the court’s adjudication.

Ms Bishop said claims of a large number of ministerial decisions being compromised was based on a misunderstanding of how they were reached.

“It’s a collective decision making process. Cabinet has made the majority of the decisions. Appointments, for example, made by the Governor-General and executive council were signed off by the Governor-General on advice by the cabinet,” she said.

However, there were exceptions.

“The Attorney-General [George Brandis] said that we’ll look at those, but the vast majority of decisions are made by cabinet,” she said.

Mr Joyce, who says he now speaks with the freedom of a candidate rather than a minister, was more bullish.

“If the Labor Party wants to challenge a whole heap of decisions to make poor people poorer and to show they’ve got absolutely no vision for regional Australia, go right ahead fellas,” Mr Joyce told ABC’s Radio National on Monday morning.

Labor’s advice from senior silk Matt Collins, QC, and barrister Matt Albert says the decisions of both disqualified ministers are now at risk under section 64 of the constitution, which requires ministers to be members of Parliament.

Ms Bishop also dismissed the calls to release the Solicitor-General’s advice on which Mr Turnbull had controversially retained Mr Joyce and Senator Nash in cabinet.

Labor believes the advice was “far less” conclusive in its contention that the Nationals had been properly qualified than the government repeatedly implied.

Throughout the period of uncertainty leading up to the ruling, Mr Turnbull, Mr Brandis, and other ministers expressed unalloyed confidence in their eligibility, with Mr Turnbull even declaring in Parliament that Mr Joyce was qualified to stay “and the High Court will so hold”.

With that position now in tatters, the government insists the legal advice provided by the Solicitor-General was confidential.

Labor’s Tony Burke said it was clear the government had something to hide.

“I think there’s a reason why they never revealed the Solicitor-General’s advice. I don’t believe for a minute it was as strong as they were claiming,” he told the ABC’s Insiders program.

But Ms Bishop defended the Prime Minister and Attorney-General.

“They took the advice of the Solicitor-General and based on that advice, they [the ministers] remained in their positions,” Ms Bishop stated.

“Governments generally don’t usually release such legal advice and I would follow precedence in this case and not release it. That’s the standard practice.”

Ms Bishop played down any tensions between Liberals and Nationals over the citizenship crisis as passing.

“There will be issues from time to time, but like in any family, you get over them and you move on.”

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The future of Australia’s participation in the Venice Biennale is under a cloud after another major arts donor pulled its financial support.
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The Balnaves Foundation announced on Monday it would no longer provide funding towards Australia’s participation at the Venice Biennale, the world’s leading contemporary arts event, after changes announced by the Australia Council for the Arts.

Its withdrawal follows a decision by prominent arts philanthropist Simon Mordant to halt financial support for Australia’s next exhibition at the Venice Biennale in protest at the lack of consultation about the changes, which include abolishing the role of independent commissioner and changing the process of selecting artists.

Hamish Balnaves, the general manager of the Balnaves Foundation, said the changes were ill-conceived, misguided “and will destroy a successful public/private partnership”.

A number of other donors will also withdraw their financial support of the Venice Biennale exhibition, Mr Balnaves said.

The Balnaves Foundation has given more than $1 million to the Venice Biennale since 2007.

Mr Balnaves said he did not have confidence in the leadership of Australia Council chief executive Tony Grybowski and chairman Rupert Myer.

“The Australian Council for the Arts’ board is appointed by the Minister for the Arts, and despite its intention to remain at arm’s length, we have seen in the last few years that the Australia Council is vulnerable to ill-conceived policy decisions, short-term political cycles and political bias,” he said.

He also criticised changes in the way artists are selected to exhibit at the Venice Biennale.

“Many of our great artists would never contemplate putting in a proposal to represent Australia and nor would they desire to take part in such a bureaucratic raffle,” Mr Balnaves said. “As such many of Australia’s best artists will likely not be considered.”

Under the changes, Australia’s representative for the 2019 Venice Biennale will be selected by a panel led by artist Callum Morton after ??receiving expressions of interest from artists and curators who have until November 22 to submit artistic proposals.

“Experience shows that artists often have some trepidation about representing Australia on the world stage at the Venice Biennale and need to be convinced and encouraged to do so – something the proposed model would inhibit,” Mr Balnaves said.

However, an Australia Council spokeswoman said an open selection process “responds to long-term sector feedback” and would promote transparency.

The changes also abolish the role of independent commissioner – a position filled in the past by leading arts patrons such as Mr Mordant, John Kaldor and most recently by Melbourne philanthropist Naomi Milgrom.

The Australia Council board will instead provide project strategy and oversight – a change demanded by Biennale authorities, according to the spokeswoman.

But Mr Balnaves said the independent commissioners were vital in fundraising and “brought to the table extensive knowledge and experience in the visual art sector, vast connections and networks and the ability to advocate globally, something that the Australia Council simply cannot replicate”.

The Australia Council will also establish a committee of donors and arts figures to raise money for the Venice exhibition.

“We believe the proposed Venice Council will not be able to fill the gap, it will be hamstrung by its narrow scope, which doesn’t include the role of Commissioner or the selection of the artist,” Mr Balnaves said.

Mr Balnaves said he was “dumbfounded” by the lack of consultation with art experts and donors.

“The lack of consultation with key stakeholders is both reprehensible, misguided and also renders private supporters to the role of cheque writers,” he said.

He said many people in the arts sector – reliant on Australia Council funding – feared retribution if they voiced opposition: “Unfortunately, the Australia Council can operate this way as their funding to the arts sector effectively muzzles criticism from that same sector.”

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Though her first feature film, released in 1992, was terrific, it took another 25 years for Lili Fini Zanuck to direct her second.
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The reason, explains the 63-year-old Oscar winner (as producer, with her late husband Richard Zanuck, of Driving Miss Daisy), was “freshman panic”.

“After Rush I was offered lots of things and I thought ‘that’s not good enough, that’s not good enough’, until nobody cared any more,” she says.

What sort of things did you turn down? “Jesus, do I want to bring back those ghosts? Primal Fear [the film that broke Edward Norton]. I turned that down three times. Se7en, with Denzel Washington [in the Morgan Freeman role] and Johnny Depp [in the role Brad Pitt would play in David Fincher’s film]. There’s just too many and none of it makes any sense.”

It wasn’t all bad, though. She was happily married to her producer husband – son of Twentieth Century Fox co-founder Daryl F. Zanuck – and got to spend lots of time with him before his death five years ago. “The truth is I’m not regretful,” she says. “But when I’m directing I love it so much that it’s beyond my belief that I could have gone without it for so long.”

Her debut Rush was a gritty drama about two undercover cops (Jason Patric and Jennifer Jason Leigh) trying to bust a drug ring but getting hooked instead. Eric Clapton: A Life in 12 Bars is a documentary. They’re miles apart, except they’re not: both have soundtracks by the legendary English guitarist and both are about addiction.

Her new film came about, she says, because someone approached Clapton with the idea and he thought if someone was going to do it, it might as well be someone he trusted.

Though they were friends, Zanuck says: “We’d never had conversations of the depth we have in this. You don’t know anybody this well.”

She recorded conversations with her subject – about his troubled childhood (he was abandoned by his mother and raised by his grandmother), his failed relationships, his addictions to cocaine and alcohol – without a camera present; she felt it was less intimidating that way, more likely to elicit an honest and thoughtful response. And besides, she didn’t want the audience to be distracted by the disconnect between what the people in the story look like now and the way they looked when the events they talk about were happening.

She cites the example of Pattie Boyd, a central figure in the drama and a source of many of the key images (“Nobody took selfies in those days,” Zanuck says, “so thank God for Pattie and her camera”). A model in the swinging ’60s, Boyd was married to George Harrison, Clapton’s neighbour and friend. Clapton fell in love with her, tried his best to woo her, wrote the song Layla for and about her. Eventually he got his way. Though Boyd at 72 is “still beautiful”, Zanuck says, “I don’t know that she’s beautiful in a way the audience would understand somebody being thunderstruck”.

Not shooting her subjects in the present day meant Zanuck was dependent on archival material (all she shot, she says, is drone footage, mostly of Clapton’s massive country pile Hurtwood Edge). And that put her at the mercy of a multitude of forces.

“It was my first documentary so I didn’t know how much prayer was involved,” she says. She’d track down someone who had a photo from a key moment in the story, she’d call them, and then “there’s this moment of, like, ‘I’ll take a million’,” she laughs. “You’ve got the maths wrong on this. We don’t need the picture that badly.”

Some of the material came from Clapton’s archives, though he didn’t really know what he had. “He wasn’t exactly scrapbooking,” she says.

There’s a remarkable piece of footage in the documentary of Clapton inhaling cocaine from a knife, his nose a bleeding mess. It comes from Rolling Hotel, a tour film shot on a train but never released (for fairly obvious reasons). Clapton had no recollection of it, but like everything else in the film, he had no issues with her using the footage.

So, has he seen the finished film? And if so, how does he feel about it?

“I showed him an hour when it was done and he was so impressed,” she says. “But later when I showed him the whole thing, I think there were things in it that were so arresting he didn’t catch the next five things.

“I think he would get stuck on something that was very emotional. It is very hard to watch your life presented in this way.”

Eric Clapton: A Life in 12 Bars screens at the British Film Festival. Details: britishfilmfestival南京夜网419论坛

Facebook: karlquinnjournalist Twitter: @karlkwin Podcast: The Clappers

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Physics exam question for 2017 HSC Students from Prairiewood High School are pictured in the schools observatory on 30 October, 2017. Photo: Brook Mitchell
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“I thought it was challenging but overall pretty good,” Madison Yeoh said of Monday morning’s physics HSC exam. But two questions had her stumped.

“One was about magnetic flux and the other was on energy changes on the outside of a rocket when decelerating into Earth’s atmosphere,” said Madison, 17, who is in year 12 at Prairiewood High School.

“A lot of questions were condensed into one so it tested your knowledge of a lot of areas, but [the exam] was pretty rewarding once you completed it.”

Steven Condell, 17, said the exam was “about average … [but] there were a bit more calculation questions in there than usual”.

Steven, who is studying both physics and chemistry at Prairiewood High, said his passion for science grew after he chose astronomy as an elective in years 9 and 10.

“I wasn’t as good at science in years 7 and 8 but astronomy helped me get better,” he said.

“[Astronomy] is very different compared to what we study in normal classes at school, it’s an application science; we get to collect a lot of observational data.”

Nearly 9700 year 12 students in NSW are studying physics this year, compared to about 9300 students last year.

At Prairiewood High, 24 year 12 students are doing physics. About 37 year 11 students are also studying the subject and 45 year 10 students have now chosen to do it for their HSC.

The school’s science head teacher, Giorgio Di Scala, said it would need an extra physics class next year and was looking at hiring another teacher to keep up with the growing numbers.

Prairiewood High is one of the few schools in the state with its own observatory and offers astronomy as an elective in years 9 and 10.

Mr Di Scala said the computerised telescope and the school’s regular star nights were “a drawcard” for students considering studying science.

“We have star nights just to excite kids about science,” he said.

“In 2012 when the transit of Venus happened, primary school kids, parents and members of the community came in; there were hundreds of people.

“Everyone got a chance to see it and that’s something that won’t happen for another 100 years.”

Kerry Sheehan, who is the science inspector and senior curriculum inspector at the NSW Education Standards Authority, welcomed the growing number of students choosing to do science subjects for the HSC.

“These are the hard sciences that everyone in the Western world is trying to increase,” Mr Sheehan said.

He said the new physics curriculum being introduced next year would aim to let students pursue their own areas of interest more than the current syllabus.

“It sets us up with the rest of the world,” Mr Sheehan said.

“The syllabus for the first time encourages kids to collaborate outside of school and work with Australian and international researchers.

“It teaches them to think about what we don’t know rather than limiting students by only looking at what we do know about.

“Physics is back.”

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Drugs seized from the Steel Street commercial premises.POLICE investigating a cannabis growing syndicate in Newcastle on Monday searched another home, this time in Beauford Street, Maryland.

At 11.50am, officers executed another search warrant at the Beauford Street address. A number of items were located and seized for forensic examination.

​Four people havebeen charged and over 325 cannabis plants seized by officers attached to Strike Force Bungarn, set up totarget the hydroponic cultivation of cannabis in Newcastle.

Police raid house in cannabis investigation Lamps in one of the rooms of the house raided on October 30.

Inside one of the rooms of the house raided on October 30.

Lamps in one of the rooms of the house raided on October 30.

A police office with some of the drugs seized in last week’s raids.

A police office with some of the drugs seized in last week’s raids.

The scene of last week’s raid in Steel Street.

Equipment seized in last week’s raid in Steel Street.

The scene of last week’s raid in Steel Street.

The scene of last week’s raid in Steel Street.

TweetFacebookAt 6pm on October23, officers arrested three men, two aged 22 and 33, for drug possession following a random breath test on Glebe Road, Adamstown, police said.

Then about 2am on October 24, officers executed a search warrant at commercial premises on Steel Street, Newcastle West, where they allegedly located an elaborate hydroponic set-up, 325 cannabis plants and 66 kilograms of cannabis.

About 2.30pm on October25,a 44-year-old woman was arrested at a Kotara business where she was charged with knowingly direct activities of criminal group.

In Newcastle Local Court on Friday, police alleged Nga White, of Hunter Street, Newcastle, was the leader of a group comprising of predominantly Vietnamese men who laundered money and cultivated large quantities of cannabis while living in Australia illegally.

MagistrateRobert Stone granted strict bail with conditions including a $100,000 surety, that Ms Whitewas to wear a GPS ankle bracelet and not to go within one kilometre of an international departure point.

Beijing: An attack on Chinese school students in Canberra that saw one hospitalised could be a turning point in Chinese attitudes towards Australia, a major newspaper has editorialised.

Two local teenagers have faced Children’s Court after the bashing at the Woden bus interchange last week, which has been widely reported by Chinese newspapers, radio and state media.

Lowy Institute director of East Asia programs Merriden Varrall said the incident “could certainly affect decision making” by safety conscious Chinese students considering studying in Australia.

A Chinese student who attended the same school as the victims told a Beijing newspaper that students are scared, because the day after the attack, they had been sworn at and pushed into a Chinese restaurant by a group of 20 to 30 Australian youths.

Global Times, a mass-circulating national newspaper focused on foreign policy, said the incident would prompt many Chinese people to feel Australia isn’t safe.

“If Australia does not take strong measures to eliminate the impact of this matter, this incident and the series of recent negative events and comments against Chinese in Australia will constitute a turning point, reshaping Chinese people’s foundation for understanding Australian society,” the Global Times wrote in an editorial on Monday.

The newspaper said “tough” talk on China by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, anti-Chinese posters at Australian universities, and “backstreet hooligans cursing ‘go back to China’ and beating our children” undermined Canberra’s message that Australia is friendly to China.

In a warning of a potential impact to Australia’s $21.8 billion international education market, the Global Times said Australia was not the only place that Chinese students could gain an education.

Another newspaper, Beijing Youth Daily interviewed Chinese student “Li Li”, a friend of the two students injured, who said they were attacked after being asked for cigarettes – which they didn’t have – by local youths.

The Chinese students did not fight back because their parents would be upset, and they were scared of being deported, he said.

“If we return now, we don’t have any diploma.”

Li Li said the Chinese school students were saddened by the names they are called in Australia.

“Some people say we are ‘stupid and rich’, ‘foreign worshippers’, and deserve to be beaten. In fact, many of our students are from ordinary families. The money is earned by our parents, one penny after another, and tuition fees are paid by ‘biting teeth’,” he told Beijing Youth Daily.

Li Li said he was fearful and ran away when he saw a young person in Canberra who was not in school uniform.

ACT Policing said it had stepped up patrols and “engaged with the Chinese community”.

Ms Varrall, who has previously taught in Chinese universities, said the Global Times editorial reflected that, “there is a changing view in China about the attitude to Australia”.

She said the recent controversy in Australia over Chinese university students had been noticed.

Chinese students consider the safety of the country they are going to when weighing up where to study overseas, and had previously considered Australia safer than Europe.

ACT education minister Yvette Barry said it was an “isolated incident – the ACT community welcomes international students”.

Linda Jakobson, the chief executive of think tank China Matters, said: “The Global Times attempts to connect dots that aren’t necessarily to be connected.

“An isolated incident of violence doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the challenges and problems on Australian university campuses.”

But she said if there were more incidents it would be cause for concern.

Australian Chinese online media reported that a WeChat group has been established to offer help to Chinese students who need transport around Canberra and want to avoid public transport.

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Australia’s Chief Medical Officer has stridently rejected claims a “budget” flu vaccine was partly responsible for this year’s horror flu season, as the academic quoted called the reports “inaccurate”.

Professor Brendan Murphy called “utterly false” accusations that a cheaper flu vaccine was to blame for hundreds flu-related deaths among the elderly this year.

“I could not be clearer – I completely refute this false claim,” CMO Professor Murphy said of the reports first published in News Corp papers.

“I could not be clearer – I completely refute this false claim,” CMO Professor Murphy said of the reports first published in News Corp papers.

Immunisation Coalition chair Professor Paul Van Buynder – quoted in the article – on Tuesday distanced himself from the claims, saying: “Media reports referring to ‘cheap vaccines’ don’t accurately describe the situation of vaccine purchasing in Australia.”

“The vaccine purchased by the Australian government and used this year was the best available in Australia at the time, and remains so today,” Professor van Buynder said in a statement.

“While the vaccine was relatively ineffective in the elderly this year, we had no alternative vaccine available.”

The articles stated the Australian government could have brought in a vaccine four times stronger and $2 more expensive per dose than those currently on the National Immunisation Programme (NIP).

But the two pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the “enhanced” vaccines have also rubbished claims that the “cheaper” offering was partly to blame for the high flu rates, or that the Australian government could have supplied the newer alternatives.

Sanofi and Seqirus (formerly CSL) have not applied to register their vaccines with the Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA), a mandatory step before vaccines can be considered for PBS listing and added to the immunisation program.

Infectious diseases expert at the University of Sydney, Professor Robert Booy, said the newer vaccines were more effective but their benefit this flu season would have been incremental.

US evidence suggested the vaccines were roughly 25 per cent more effective than those currently available in Australia, said Professor Booy, who is also head of clinical research at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance in Australia.

“To be frank, an increase of 25 per cent on a vaccine that was 30 per cent effective this flu season is about 37 per cent effective. That’s the kind of improvement we’re talking about.

“No one is trying to save money here … we are using the best available vaccines in Australia,” he said.

Both government authorities and independent experts conceded this year’s vaccine was far less protective than they had hoped, offering as little as 20 to 30 per cent effectiveness among at risk groups including the elderly.

At the peak of the horrendous flu season, health minister Greg Hunt asked Professor Murphy to explore ways of strengthening Australia’s influenza protection, including holding talks with vaccine manufacturers about new and stronger vaccines.

Professor Murphy said evidence that over 65s had a weaker immune response to the vaccine only emerged “in the past year or so”.

“We’re working with the companies to see what fast-tracking process we can provide to deliver [the new vaccines], but that wasn’t even a consideration at the vaccine choice last year,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.

Both Sanofi and Seqirus indicated they were in the process of registering their vaccines for use in Australia, and were working with the Department of Health to expedite regulation.

Sanofi’s unavailable vaccine has four times the dose of the currently available vaccines, while Seqirus’ adjuvant vaccine contains an additional component that triggers a stronger immune response and creates more antibodies.

The manufacturers backed the CMO and influenza experts’ stance, stressing suggestions the high rate of influenza in Australia in 2017 are in part a result of the supply of “cheap” vaccine were incorrect.

“The 2017 flu vaccine supplied in Australia is the current standard of care globally for the prevention of influenza,” Sanofi said in its statement.

In a separate statement, Sequiris said they and other manufacturers “have not previously sought regulatory approval for sale of these vaccines in Australia and it would have been illegal and irresponsible for government to have attempted to offer them on the NIP”.

“The Minister for Health, [CMO, TGA] and Federal Department of Health have responded swiftly to this year’s severe influenza season, and Seqirus is working to expedite regulation of our enhanced vaccine” said Dr Lorna Meldrum, vice-president commercial operations.

The World Health Organisation independently monitors circulating influenza strains and advises vaccine manufacturers and public health authorities which strains should be included the next round of seasonal flu vaccines.

“They are the same vaccines that are available and used in the UK, US and other countries and the same vaccines available on the private market in Australia,” Professor Murphy said.

Professor Booy said it was “worrying” to see the currently available vaccines portrayed as “budget” options, warning misinformation could drive down vaccination rates.

He said the best way to protect high-risk groups was to increase the vaccination rate in healthy adults to reduce transmission.

“It behooves us to maximise vaccine uptake in the healthy adults who ae coming into contact with the elderly in aged care, residential care and hospitals,” he said.

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Somewhere in a freezer at a Melbourne fertility clinic, sits something that belongs to six-year-old Stella Davis.

It was removed from her when she was a toddler, while she was undergoing intensive chemotherapy for a germ cell cancer that was refusing to go away.

The tissue sample, taken from one of Stella’s ovaries, is of no use to her now. And it might not be for decades to come, if ever.

But it represents hope.

There is a risk that Stella may not be able to have children of her own in the future, because of the multiple rounds of chemotherapy she had to endure after the discovery of a large tumour on her tail bone.

In response, doctors at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne offered her parents the option of preserving some of her ovarian tissue.

Stella’s mother Lara MacEwen said making the decision to preserve her daughter’s ovarian tissue was an easy one.

“I’m very realistic,” she said.

“We know that there isn’t a 100 per cent chance that it is going to work, but you have to be hopeful, and science and technology is progressing so fast.

“Who knows where we will be in 15 years or so?”

One might assume that any parent of a child in Stella’s situation would do all they could to help their child.

But the issue is more fraught than it appears, success with tissue from young children is unproven and could rely on technology that does not yet exist.

The topic has been recently investigated by University of Melbourne bioethicist Rosalind McDougall and her colleagues, who found that for many children the removal of reproductive tissue was ethically permissible, but not ethically required – which meant the decision was up to parents.

“Even though the surgery to collect the tissue is quite straightforward, the techniques of using the tissue are still being developed,” Dr McDougall said.

“[In cases where doctors believe] it is going to be medically safe for a child, it is appropriate to offer the procedure but because of the speculative nature of the future benefit we think it is justifiable for parents to go forward with the procedure – or decide not to.”

Although 80 per cent of paediatric cancer patients now survive their illness, 16 per cent of girls will be left infertile and treatment can also deplete boy’s sperm.

The Royal Children’s Hospital has, since 2013, been routinely offering the fertility preservation procedure for appropriate patients, with tissue samples taken from 100 girls and 40 boys.

These cases were guided by an ethical framework, which asks clinicians to consider questions such as whether the child has already received treatment that may have damaged the tissue, whether the procedure could delay cancer treatment and if parents realised that the procedure would not guarantee future fertility.

The process sees ovarian or testicular tissue taken from young cancer patients and frozen in a process of “cryopreserving”, in the hope that by the time the children are grown, medical technology will have advanced to allow the tissue to be used to create a baby.

In girls, it is thought the harvested tissue may be replanted when the patient is ready to have children.

Royal Children’s Hospital paediatric oncologist Professor Michael Sullivan said it was also conceivable that eggs could one day be recovered from the frozen ovarian tissue.

Professor Sullivan said that globally there had been at least 100 births using cryopreserved ovarian tissue, but only one report of a live birth from tissue that was removed before the girl hit puberty.

“That’s because tissue has only been stored for a relatively short time,” he said.

The technology is less advanced when it comes to boys. It is estimated that births relying on testicular tissue for sperm “may be decades away”.

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AFL great Luke Hodge says a line in the sand has been drawn following the three-match ban handed down to Richmond premiership defender Nathan Broad, suggesting that the next player to commit a similar offence to that of the Tiger deserves a considerably heftier penalty.

Richmond – in combination with the AFL – suspended West Australian backman Broad for the first three matches of the 2018 home and away season for sending a photo of a topless woman wearing a premiership medal, taken on the night of Richmond’s grand final win. Broad did not have permission to send the photo of the woman, whose head was not in the image, although while the photo went viral no charges were laid following a Victoria Police investigation into the matter.

The league said it supported the length of the ban, but while Hodge didn’t say it had been overly lenient, he said players should learn from Broad’s mistake, or else incur the AFL’s wrath.

“People, and players especially, they’ve got to be smarter and respect ladies better than that,” Hodge told ABC radio on Monday as he promoted his newly-released book The General.

“[Broad] probably didn’t realise what social media, iPhones can do these days.

“If you send it out on social media, it can go anywhere, the same as a picture message.

“Next time that happens, I hope the AFL comes down a lot harder than this one. I think it’s a massive learning curve for him as a young person, and hopefully he’s better for it in the future.”

Triple-premiership captain and dual Norm Smith medallist Hodge, who has come out of a short-lived retirement to join the Brisbane Lions after a storied 16 season career at Hawthorn, described the situation as a “test case.”

“Hopefully this is a learning curve for not only him, but all the other players who are going to do something silly like that,” he said.

“I obviously feel for the young lady, and hopefully she hasn’t been affected too much by it. Obviously I’m glad that her name hasn’t been put out.

“But I’m tipping that now that this has obviously been the test case, if anyone’s ever silly enough to do this again, then it’s going to be a lot bigger whack, and I think that’s very deserved.”

AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon said the league wouldn’t tolerate this sort of behaviour.

“This is a serious reminder about the responsibility each individual holds in their respectful treatment of the people around them,” Dillon said.

“These unacceptable actions will not be tolerated in the AFL, and our 18 clubs will continue to work to drive cultural change about respectful and responsible behaviour.”

Broad, 24, was plucked by the Tigers as a mature-age recruit from WAFL club Swan Districts deep in the 2015 draft. He played just two senior games in 2016 before missing the early part of this year through injury, but won back his spot towards the end of the year to play 10 games including all three of Richmond’s finals.

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

The Australian Taxation Office is aware investigative journalists are scrutinising the clients of Bermuda-based law firm Appleby, and are bracing themselves for what may be a second Panama Papers-style leak.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has approached the firm with allegations of wrongdoing, which the firm strongly denies. The firm admitted that some client data had been stolen in a cyber attack last year.

The Serious Financial Crime Taskforce, which includes major government agencies including the Australian Taxation Office, has since July 2015 raised more than $400 million in liabilities from 614 audits and reviews and collected more than $164 million in cash collections.

In the past financial year, it raised more than $258 million in liabilities and collected $126 million in cash.

One of the taskforce’s most high-profile investigations into the first Panama Papers leaks – 11.5 million documents were leaked from law firm Mossack Fonseca – identified 1200 Australians of interest.

The ATO told Senate Estimates it raised about $50 million worth of liabilities from this investigation, and a further $40 million worth of income would now being counted.

About 600 of those had already either come forward through the ATO’s 2014 tax amnesty known as Project Do It.

The ATO has previously told Fairfax Media that Australian tax advisers and their wealthy clients with links to the Panama Papers may be hit with criminal charges.

Deputy Commissioner Mark Konza told Senate Estimates he was aware of media reports indicating another big leak was coming.

“We have been aware of an issue regarding this firm,” he said. “We understand that it’s in regard to services provided by that law firm to taxpayers.

“… From the bare details that we have, that it might be similar to the Panama Papers where tax structuring has been exposed.”

In 2016-17, the ATO also took part in a joint international investigation into Swiss banking relationship managers, who are alleged to have actively promoted and facilitated tax evasion in Australia.

Its annual report said it had “identified a number of Australians that require further examination in respect of offshore activities”.

The ATO’s private groups and wealthy Australians programs (including high-wealth individuals, trusts and promoters) had more than 520 taxpayers under audit or review. This work raised $834 million in liabilities and $466 million in cash collections in 2016-17.

It also noted that the government’s Phoenix Taskforce, which included the ATO, was moving against illegal phoenix behaviour.

It said its campaign to make the community aware of the problem via media and social media promotions had resulted in a 24 per cent increase in referrals to the Tax Evasion Referral Centre compared with last year, which could lead to future compliance action.

In 2016-17, there had been 680 reviews and audits, resulting in liabilities of $326.8 million and cash collections of $133 million.

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The teenager bashed unconscious at a Halloween party on Sydney’s north shore has woken from a coma and is talking to his family.

The 16-year-old had been left fighting for his life with critical head injuries after being punched to the ground outside a Gladesville party on Saturday night.

Emergency services were called to the Ganora Street home just before 11.30pm following reports that a teenager was unconscious and suffering head injuries.

Detectives had been told an altercation took place between a group of youths outside the home before the teen was punched, causing him to fall to the ground and hit his head.

Police attended the Gladesville home on Saturday night. Photo: Supplied/Channel 9

The teen was rushed to Royal North Shore Hospital in a critical condition and was still fighting for his life on Sunday.

But his family said in a statement on Monday that the teen had shown significant signs of improvement.

“We are pleased to announce that our son is now out of a coma and talking,” the statement read.

“As you can imagine, this has been an emotional time for our family and we request the media respect our privacy so that we are able to focus our efforts on being there for our son and help him during this time.

“A big thank you also to the NSW Police Force who are investigating this matter. And to our family, friends and work colleagues who have supported us during this difficult time.”

The party of about 60 teenagers had turned nasty after a number of people, believed to have already been kicked out of another party, turned up uninvited.

A group of young men had fled the scene before police arrived however some of the visitorsremained outside the house as a crime scene was set up.

Halloween masks and beer bottles lay strewn across nature strips and the suburban road as police attempted to calm the situation.

Senior police later made a public appeal for witnesses to come forward.

Ryde detectives continued to interview partygoers on Monday in an attempt to find out what caused the melee and who was responsible for the punch.

It was still unclear on Monday whether the injured man was an invited guest at the Halloween party being hosted by a teenage girl.

The brawl also prompted police to warn would-be party hosts to have adequate supervision.

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

The five federal politicians disqualified over their citizenship status collected close to $9 million in taxpayer-funded salaries they were not entitled to.

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce accounts for $2.8 million of that money and his former Nationals deputy Fiona Nash $2.6 million. Both first entered parliament in 2005 and have benefited from ministerial bonuses since 2013.

Former Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters were paid $1.8 million and $1.3 million respectively, and One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts collected about $266,000 between the 2016 election and Friday’s High Court verdict.

All up, they collected a total of $8,769,509 in base salary and ministerial bonuses. The figure – based on an analysis of MP pay rates and positions held over the last 13 years – does not include committee bonuses or any allowances.

It also does not include any staff or office costs.

And it comes on top of the price tag of the High Court case itself, which has been estimated to have cost taxpayers up to $3 million given the Commonwealth picked up the tab for half a dozen of the nation’s top silks and their teams.

However none of the five were eligible for the generous parliamentary defined benefits scheme pension because all were elected after 2004.

All five MPs were booted out of Parliament after the court ruled them ineligible because of their dual citizenship. Mr Joyce and Mr Ludlam had New Zealand citizenships, Ms Nash and Mr Roberts British and Ms Waters Canadian.

While the verdict only related to their eligibility at the time of last year’s election, all five inherited their dual citizenship status at birth – meaning all were in fact illegitimately elected for the entirety of their federal political careers.

While the Turnbull government could pursue repayment – at least for the roughly $1.3 million paid out since July 2016 – it is unlikely to do so.

While the Department of Finance is likely to write to the dumped MPs with a bill for salaries, allowances, superannuation and staff payments, they can easily apply to the government for a waiver.

Former Family First senator Bob Day did just that earlier this year after he was disqualified for contravening pecuniary interest elements of the constitution.

Special Minister of State Scott Ryan agreed to the waiver, saying it was “consistent with the outcome in previous similar cases”. iFrameResize({resizedCallback : function(messageData){}},’#pez_iframeTT’);

That approach would only be likely to change if evidence emerged that an MP had deliberately or knowingly defrauded the taxpayer.

Asked on Monday whether the MPs should pay back any money, acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop said: “That would be a matter of advice from the Department of Finance and that would be a matter for the Finance Minister.”

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

HANG TIME: Newcastle Jets skipper Nigel Boogaard wins a header during the 1-all draw against Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday. Picture: Jonathan CarrollHow many times have you heard a match described as “a game of two halves”?

Well that old chestnut certainly got a workout at the Jets v Wanderers clash on Sunday, and in the media appraisals post game.

The Wanderers, playing their third game in eight days, were sharper, crisperand more fluent in the opening stanza, and went to the break comfortable, rather than dominant leaders.

The half-time discussion in the stands centred around disrupting the Wanderers flow, the Jets playing forward earlier, asking some questions of the Wanderers’ defence, and a general lift in intensity.

Knowledgeable pundit Andy Harper concurred on Fox Sports coverageand, perhaps more importantly, Jets coach Ernie Merrick saw things in a similar light.

Did the Jets lift? Did the Wanderers drop away? A combination of both?

Did the introduction of Joey Champness turn things around? You’d have to say it did, though to be fair the Wanderers did miss Kearyn Baccus’s midfield authority after he succumbed to illness.

All of that may have contributed to a change in fortunes, but there is no doubt that goals change momentum and matches more than any other factor.

After Dimi Petratos followed up the rebound from Roy O’Donovan’s snapshot, and restored scoreboard parity, there really looked likely to be only one winner.

The Jets started to go around a tiring Wanderers side, particular joy to be found down the visitors left-hand side, where RaúlLlorente at left back was hampered by a cork, picked up in the first half.

In the enda draw was probably a pretty fair reflection of the game. Both sides were perhaps left feeling a tinge of disappointment, but both were pleased to maintain their unbeaten starts to the season.

Given the circumstances of the weekend prior, the injury to Ronny Vargasand the psychological and physical toll that may have taken, and the pedigree of the Wanderers, a draw for the Jets is certainly no disaster.

They will be very eager to provide the fans with a home victory, however, as it has been nearly 12 months since that has happened at McDonald Jones Stadium.

No better time to do that, you might think, than with a home fixture this Saturday night in prime time, against a Wellington Phoenix side whogave up a 3-0lead against Brisbane at home last weekend.

This fixture, however, has traditionally proven to be a bit of a banana-skin game for the Jets, and not one to be complacent about at all, this time around. The two sides played each other in pre-season at Edgeworth not so long ago, and though I am wary of trial form, there were lessons to be learned.

The Jets looked in total control for most of that encounter, but Wellington had a 15-minute period, just after Ben Kantarovski departed his defensive midfield role where they ran amok, with a lively Roy Krishna to the fore.

Jets coach Merrick of course knows all about the qualities of the Fijian flyer, Michael McGlinchey and company, from his time at the Phoenix , and I am sure will be stressing the need for maximum effort and application.

It’s a hackneyed observation, but there really aren’t any easy games in the A league. Just ask Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat at the moment.

Last season’s runners-up are struggling, with two points from four games, but you’d fancy they will pick up the pace when World Cup qualifying commitments, and Besart Berisha’s suspension, end.

Last season’s record-breaking champions Sydney FC have started the season very professionally, winning three of four games, and coming from 0-2 down in the derby, to share the points with the Wanderers.

Surely they will finish top two again?

If I’m honest, I think they are close to a moral to win the premiers plate, but I may know more about that after Friday night’s top-of-the-table clash with the high-flying Melbourne City side.

English coach Warren Joycehas the sky-blue side of Melbourne ticking over nicely, and dare we write it, showing more discipline and desire than has been the case in previous seasons.

They clash at AAMI Park, and your columnist will be there in person,beforemy annual pilgrimage to Derby Day at Flemington, which coincides most handily with what should be a terrific contest.

Having told “Windy”, who had taken the $2.88 about the Wanderers on Sunday, to have a saving bet on the draw at $4.33, not three minutes before the Jets equalised, my confidence is back in a big way (although he ignored my suggestion completely).

So dear friends, and discerning readers, let me give you some advice, not likely to be approved at the Noel Whitaker School of wealth accumulation.

You can currently find odds of $1.90 about Sydney FC to win the minor premiership. Do so now, before Friday (you can always back up at a better price if City beat them), sit back and relax, and almost double your ample investment by May.

If in the unlikely event of a Graham Arnold-coached team losing its way, you will still be right in the running till season’s end, and able to save your stake if necessary.

Money for jam really. All thanks and gratuities can be forwarded to me care of the Herald, and please remember, always gamble responsibly.

Slater & Gordon Chairman John Skippen leaves the company’s AGM in Melbourne. Photo by Jesse Marlow. . Slater & Gordon CEO Andrew Grech talks to investors after the company’s AGM in Melbourne. Photo by Jesse Marlow. .

Slater and Gordon’s long-suffering shareholders will be nearly wiped out in the company’s rescue plan and many will be left with parcels of shares so small they cannot be sold on market.

The dire fate of Slater and Gordon’s shareholders was laid bare in more than 1000 pages of documents filed to the Australian Securities Exchange on Monday.

But despite shareholders facing near wipe out, the deal is a better option than placing the company in administration where the shares will be worth zero, according to an independent expert’s report on the deal by KPMG.

The rescue plan will salvage Slater and Gordon’s Australian business.

The recapitalisation comes after two horror years during which the company has teetered on the brink of insolvency after a $1.3 billion deal in the UK blew up.

After the rescue, current shareholders will only hold 5 per cent of the company’s shares.

Slater and Gordon’s senior lenders led by America’s Anchorage Capital Group will hold the other 95 per cent.

The shares that were once worth $2.8 billion were trading at 6.8 cents on Monday equating to a market capitalisation of $24.2 million.

The rescue plan values Slater and Gordon’s shares at between 0.3 cents or 1.1 cents each, meaning the 351.4 million shares currently on issue will be worth between $1.05 million and $3.87 million.

This compares to the $15.5 million in fees Slater and Gordon’s legal and financial advisers will receive for completing the deal.

About 6.5 billion shares will be issued to the hedge funds holding Slater and Gordon’s $1 billion-plus debt pile. Shares will then be consolidated on 1 for 100 basis.

In return, the hedge funds will forgive swathes of Slater and Gordon’s debts. The lighter debt load will free up the company’s balance sheet which is currently weighed down by finance repayments.

Slater and Gordon chairman John Skippen apologised to shareholders over the deal.

“Regrettably the interests of existing shareholders will be significantly diluted and I and the board are sorry for this,” Mr Skippen.

Slater and Gordon’s former managing director, Andrew Grech, and current executives Hayden Stephens and Ken Fowlie will be impacted by the recapitalisation, with all holding shares in the company. Mr Skippen also owns 100,000 shares and will be diluted through the process.

The recapitalisation will mean that many of Slater and Gordon’s existing shareholders will be left with parcels of shares valued at below $500, making them unmarketable.

Slater and Gordon says it may consider a buyback of these unmarketable parcels after the recapitalisation of the company.

The documents also revealed that Slater and Gordon plans to hive off its deeply troubled UK business into a new entity. The separation of the UK and Australian businesses will insulate Slater and Gordon’s middling local results from the earnings losses in the UK.

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