Archive for December, 2018

Malcolm Turnbull’s half-hearted push for marriage equality

Cold feet? There has been no landmark speech setting out Malcolm Turnbull’s modern n vision. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Same-sex marriage reform has been allowed to disintegrate.
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 In Aussie rules they call it “putting in the short steps”: a faux dash to the ball when a blood nose looms.

Malcolm Turnbull might have put in a few of these on his marriage equality plebiscite. Few doubt the member for Wentworth’s heart is in the right place, but how strongly is it beating?

The Prime Minister’s desultory path to the present is no secret. He opposed Tony Abbott’s plebiscite but then agreed to keep it as a condition of getting Abbott’s job. He then took that plan to an election, formed government, and has since pushed the legislation up to the Senate, where its demise is assured.

But why? For all the valid pre-election arguments against the plebiscite, there are stronger arguments for it now than he has advanced. One is that whichever way the question is decided, it requires the assent of heterosexual , either through MPs representing the broader community – i.e. Parliament – or directly via the plebiscite. So for all their divergent procedural characteristics, the qualitative moral differences claimed by the plebiscite’s trenchant opponents are exaggerated.

Then there’s the fact that despite the plebiscite having been a delaying tactic in 2015, the delay now is the insistence on a parliamentary vote – which could be years away. Justice delayed is justice denied.

There are other arguments too. But, curiously, Turnbull has put few forcefully and none systematically. Compare this with his advocacy of a lifetime visa ban on Manus and Nauru refugees. Announced only a week ago, he’s been pushing that divisive little wedge relentlessly in the days since.

A key element missing in favour of the plebiscite – and more importantly the legal discrimination it could quickly consign to history – has been the cogent, public case for reform.

Where is the Redfern Address setting out Turnbull’s modern n vision? The landmark speech outlining his case for the plebiscite; the more durable socio-political legitimacy it offers; the unfinished business of equality; and, crucially, the reassurance to those nervous about defeat (the great unspoken in this argument) that Turnbull will deliver. Instead, all most voters have heard is that the “yes” case would prevail as if it is not in doubt.

Even gathering crossbench numbers in the Senate is easier if the public is engaged. Yet this reform, like the shambolic republic debate in the late 1990s – at which Turnbull was also at the helm, incidentally – has been allowed to disintegrate, to sink under the weight of procedural mechanics, rather than soar on the uplifting promise of fairness and civic advancement.

No doubt the PM will argue that he held up his end, did what he could. But did he?

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Gillian Triggs hits back at ‘deeply misleading’ Malcolm Turnbull over 18C claims

n Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs has hit back at Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Andrew MearesThe president of the Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, has hit back after an extraordinary attack by Malcolm Turnbull, accusing the Prime Minister of not being briefed and misunderstanding how the organisation operates.
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Mr Turnbull on Monday called on the commission to urgently review the way it manages race hate cases after “bringing” a case against three students that was last week thrown out by a Federal Circuit Court judge for having no reasonable prospect of success.

“What the judge was saying to the Human Rights Commission is, ‘you’ve been wasting the court’s time. You’ve been wasting government money’,” Mr Turnbull told ABC radio.

He urged the organisation to reflect on whether it was acting in a way that was undermining public support for the commission and its promotion of human rights.

But Professor Triggs said the commission had no power to instigate court proceedings and revealed she had been urging the government to introduce a higher threshold before the commission was obliged to investigate hate speech complaints.

“The Prime Minister was deeply misleading in suggesting that we had brought the case. We never bring cases and we are purely passive in that sense. We don’t prosecute, we don’t pursue, we don’t instigate proceedings,” she told Fairfax Media.

“The judge did not make any comment on the Human Rights Commission and made no such extreme, provocative statement.”

The government is poised to announce a parliamentary inquiry into the operation of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which makes it unlawful to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” someone because of their race or ethnicity.

Critics say the law places an excessive curb on free speech and argue the Federal Circuit Court’s decision in the QUT case and the commission’s handling of a complaint against News Corp cartoonist Bill Leak demonstrates the need for reform. The Leak matter is unresolved.

But Professor Triggs argued the campaign is being orchestrated by News Corp and politicians “who have deliberately misunderstood the law”.

“There is no doubt that they have deliberately undermined a process that proceeds quietly, with 20,000 matters, plus formals complaints, each year,” she said.

She predicted a massive backlash from those who opposed changing the law during Tony Abbott’s prime ministership.

“There will be a huge political response by the Jewish Board of Deputies, the Chinese community, the Vietnamese, the Muslim community. There are many, many groups who spoke up last time. Why you would expect that to have changed, I’m not sure.”

The executive director of the /Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, Dr Colin Rubenstein, has mounted a strong defence of 18C after the court decision, while accepting the conciliation process may “require further consideration and review”.

“Especially at a time when xenophobia in is rising, this legal provision continues to be essential in helping to maintain social cohesion while providing victims of racism with a just method for seeking redress where they have been the target of racial vilification,” Dr Rubenstein said.

Professor Triggs said while the Federal Circuit Court had adopted a high threshold in ruling on breaches of section 18C, the commission was required by law to investigate and attempt to conciliate all written complaints. It did this in 74 per cent of formal complaints, with only one or two per cent going to court.

“Our statute requires us to accept the matter, as distinct from the Federal Court, which has got a much higher threshold,” she said.

“Even if I know it would fail at the Federal Court, we are bound to accept the complaint in the hope of conciliating it. It’s a form of social justice. It costs the complainant nothing and it costs the respondent nothing, unless they choose to go to lawyers.”

Professor Triggs said the commission had urged the government for some years to change the legislation and introduce a higher threshold before the commission investigated complaints, without success.

She welcomed the prospect of an inquiry, saying the commission would make a submission supporting “a stronger 18C that gets the message out even more effectively that abuse on the grounds of race in the public arena is unacceptable”.

Professor Triggs also defended the commission’s handling of the QUT case, saying the complaint met the threshold when it was lodged. “We kept on with it because we had every belief in the university and the students and Ms (Cindy) Prior (the complainant) that they were acting in good faith and would conciliate.

“After twelve or thirteen months it became very clear that we could not conciliate and therefore we terminated it, which allowed the parties to go to court if they wanted to.”

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Pauline Hanson supports move to refer One Nation senator Rod Culleton’s election to the High Court

Senator Pauline Hanson addresses the Senate on Monday. Photo: Andrew Meares Senator Rod Culleton speaks in the Senate on the issue of his eligibility to serve in the Senate. Photo: Andrew Meares
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Senator Hanson listens on as Senator Culleton speaks on the issue in the Senate. Photo: Andrew Meares

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has backed the referral of one of her senators to the High Court, saying her integrity and accountability to the n people offered her no other choice.

A visibly emotional Senator Hanson spoke slowly as she reaffirmed her personal support for West n senator Rod Culleton, but said her fight to return to the Parliament had been too long and too hard to not act.

Senator Culleton’s election to the Senate has been put in doubt over a conviction he held at the time of the July 2 poll. That conviction, over the theft of a $7.50 tow-truck key, has since been quashed. In his own impassioned speech to the Senate on Monday, Senator Culleton argued that meant the conviction had never existed.

His party leader wasn’t taking any chances.

“I have always stood for honesty, for integrity, for what is the truth, and the people deserve no less, especially from this chamber,” she said.

“It goes to the very heart of our democracy and now with this at hand, it is a question over Mr Culleton’s, Senator Culleton’s, eligibility to hold a seat in this place. I was of the opinion when he was nominated for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation as a Senate candidate that he stated that he was eligible to stand under the requirements of the constitution section 44.

“I took that to be his oath and it was signed and witnessed; his signature was witnessed by a JP.

“My fellow colleagues and I support Mr Culleton, Senator Culleton, but we have seen on too many occasions politicians in this place and the other place who have not been accountable to the n people, and I will not stand here and be of the same ilk.

“I believe that it should go to the High Court to make the ruling on this matter and I hope the findings are, and I would dearly love to see Senator Culleton here again as a One Nation senator.

“I believe that I have the support of my other senators and I know that Senator Culleton will not be too happy with what I have just said. But I think that my integrity and my honesty – and I have fought for 18 years to be on the floor of this Parliament as a representative of the people – and I cannot sit back and disregard what may have been a wrong judgment. But I will leave it up to the courts to make the final decision.”

Senator Hanson tabled the declaration Senator Culleton had signed at the time of his candidacy, which stated he was eligible to stand.

The referral was passed by the Senate several hours later.

Prior to Senator Hanson’s statement, Senator Culleton had called on the chamber to “right the wrongs [and] recognise that natural justice has not been served in the Court of Disputed Returns over these spurious charges, which were annulled. There was no conviction on the matter, thereby acknowledging that they never existed.”

He blamed the move on political machinations and the two-party system, despite his spot in the Senate, should the court rule his election to be invalid, probably falling to his brother-in-law, Peter Georgiou, who was next in line on the One Nation West n ticket.

“Parliamentary representatives who actually stand up and represent their constituents will always be under attack from within and from without,” he said.

“That is all too often the nature of the political climate in this country. The preference in the party arena is for the confirmative to just warm those seats with respect to those parties, with no tolerance for true representation of constituent interests. This is not a democracy and that is not in the interests of the true representation in this place for all ns.

“Certain parties believe they have a vested interest in the Senate seat; their actions and reactions today reflect that vested interest in securing this West n Senate seat for which I was elected to serve my constituents in Western n for the next three years.

“Whether or not a concise vote is allowed in this chamber on this issue, it is clear from the reaction of many senators towards me today that their consciences are already affecting their votes and their demeanour.

“In due course, what has been going on behind closed doors will thoroughly be disclosed – both the skulduggery and the acts of integrity and character, that mateship, that separates the n national ethos in a league of its own, refusing to allow such acts of bastardy, without a challenge or an indication of support or solidarity.”

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Obeid family associate Joe Elias in line for Sydney Fish Market windfall

Joe Elias is negotiating with the government over his business at Blackwattle Bay. Photo: Dallas Kilponen Premier Mike Baird and Planning Minster Rob Stokes at Sydney Fish Market on Monday. Photo: Peter Rae
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A $250 million plan by the NSW government to build a new Sydney Fish Market may deliver a windfall to an associate of the family of corrupt former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid.

Joe Elias, a friend of Mr Obeid’s son Eddie Obeid jnr, is locked in negotiations with the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) about surrendering a lease on land the government needs for the development.

Court documents show the RMS has been trying to evict Mr Elias’ company Blackwattle Bay Marina from the site, terminate the lease and regain control.

A spokeswoman for the RMS told Fairfax Media the agency and Blackwattle Bay Marina “are in the final stages of positive negotiations for the Blackwattle Bay lease arrangements”.

“Part of this includes settlement for the relocation of Blackwattle Bay Marina to an alternative location,” she said. “Discussions are progressing, which are commercial in confidence.”

Mr Elias did not respond to calls.

The development plan, announced by Premier Mike Baird and Planning Minister Rob Stokes, will see the Sydney Fish Market demolished and apartments, commercial and retail developed in its place.

A new Sydney Fish Market will be built on a neighbouring site at Blackwattle Bay. The RMS, which is the land holding agency, is negotiating with leaseholders about vacating the site.

They include concrete company Hanson and Mr Elias, whose party boat business All Occasion Cruises operates on the site.

Mr Elias was controversially awarded a tender to redevelop the site into a marina in 2009 by then Labor ports minister Joe Tripodi.

In August 2009, Mr Tripodi announced that Mr Elias had won the $15 million to $20 million tender for a maritime development on the Blackwattle Bay site.

A two-stage tender process had been recommended, but NSW Maritime’s then chief executive Steve Dunn dismissed all other bidders, including major property developer Lend Lease, after the first stage and declared All Occasion Cruises the winner.

The Elias bid was higher than its competitors, but partly because it included a non-conforming function centre.

Since then, and in an unrelated matter, Mr Dunn was found to have acted corruptly by scrapping a policy that would have put the Obeid family’s Circular Quay leases out to competitive tender.

Mr Tripodi, who appointed Mr Dunn to his position at NSW Maritime at the behest of Mr Obeid, was also found to be corrupt.

Majid Saab, Eddie Obeid’s son-in-law, is also a close friend of Mr Elias and has worked as a barman with Mr Elias’ company Wild Boys Afloat, which offers male strippers in G-strings performing for hens’ nights.

Mr Elias’ development never happened.

On Monday, Mr Baird and Mr Stokes announced an agreement had been reached between the government’s development arm, Urban Growth, and leaseholders at the existing Sydney Fish Market to proceed to “design, planning, site investigation and negotiations”.

They said the new market, to open opposite Wentworth Park, would include levels “under the water line” and, at 35,000 square metres of floor space, would be more than double the size of the existing site.

The current market will continue to operate while the new one is constructed. This will ensure retailers can continue trading right up until it is opened, removing a major impediment to previous redevelopment plans.

The government says the cost of the development will be “offset” by construction of residential apartments, commercial and retail space on the current site. Mr Stokes said the scale and design of that development had yet to be determined.

It is hoped the development will see the number of existing fish market visitors double to 6 million a year. Construction of the new market is due to begin in late 2018.

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Rocket science, lunacy and plain weirdness engulf Parliament as Buzz Aldrin drops in

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meets former astronaut Buzz Aldrin at Parliament House. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen A bejewelled Buzz Aldrin signs a copy of his book for Malcolm Turnbull at Parliament House. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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There was a fair bit of weird rocket science around Parliament on Monday, and not all of it had to do with a visit by the second man to walk on the moon, Buzz Aldrin.

Buzz has become quite far out since he’s returned from outer space.

These days, white whiskered and forever chuckling, he looks a bit like Willie Nelson without a hair braid. He turned up to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s suite for a book signing wearing a fetching stars ‘n’ stripes ensemble that included a very jaunty pair of patriotic socks.

His choice in jewellery was even more spaced out: multicoloured bracelets, skull bracelets, black-beaded bracelets, at least two watches on one arm and two fistfuls of gold rings.

Turnbull, something of a gadget man, was much taken by the watches, one of which was set to Houston time, home of NASA’s Mission Control.

Elsewhere in Parliament House, lunacy was breaking out all over.

One Nation’s bug-eyed senator of the lunar right, Malcolm Roberts, called a press conference to attack NASA’s data on climate change.

Roberts produced one Tony Heller, who he introduced as a “world-class expert” on the subject.

Heller has been blogging for years about climate change – he’s not a believer, you’d be surprised to hear – under another name, Steven Goddard, for reasons best known to himself. He has a bachelor of science in geology and a master’s degree in electrical engineering.

Here’s his opening statement:

“What really got me interested in the work that Senator Roberts was doing, was the Q&A show with the Professor Brian Cox, the BBC presenter.

“What Brian Cox did was hold out a graph and … sort of implied that this is very bad and if you don’t believe this, then you probably don’t believe that NASA landed a man on the moon either and that is something I have studied quite a bit … I was sort of stunned by this because I realised that Professor Cox probably hadn’t done any research on this at all, or very little, because the actual people who went to the moon, the Apollo astronauts and the people associated with them, are very critical of the NASA climate and temperature programs.”

He went on quite a bit about how NASA astronauts allegedly disagreed with NASA’s climate scientists – Buzz wasn’t invited to give his opinion – but even greater lunacy was brewing over in the House of Representatives.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton thought he’d tell a joke.

The best stand-up comedians have a great skill: the deadpan.

Dutton was born with a brilliant deadpan. Not a change of expression flits across that face. You’d suspect he shoots up botox before leaving home.

The problem is that he has no apparent sense of delivery to go with it.

His joke – which he read badly and, it seemed, endlessly – had something to do with a bikie called Bill, a union woman called Julia and a carpenter called Kevin who talked to his fellow CFMEU workers in Chinese.

You needed only look at the increasingly horrified faces of his colleagues to realise that most of them dearly wished they were anywhere else: the moon would have done quite nicely.

Labor’s naughty Anthony Albanese finally put everyone out of their misery.

“Point of order,” he begged. And on what point would that be, inquired Speaker Tony Smith?

“Yes, Mr Speaker,” said Albanese, displaying a perfect deadpan.

“On weirdness.”

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Deng Adut named NSW Chinan of the Year

Deng Adut has been named NSW n of the Year for 2017. Photo: James Brickwood Deng Adut has been named NSW n of the Year for 2017. “I had to wait until I became an n citizen to know that I belonged,” he said Monday night. Photo: Michele Mossop
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NSW n of the year Finalists Stan Grant, Turia Pitt, Deng Adut, Refugee and lawyer and Dr Jordan Nguuyen. Photo: Michele Mossop

“I had to wait until I became an n citizen to know that I belonged.” Photo: Michele Mossop

Deng Adut saw tragedy and suffering at an age when most young ns are learning to read and forging their first friendships in the schoolyard.

Taken from his family’s banana farm in South Sudan at the age of six and conscripted into the army, Mr Adut witnessed child soldiers like him holding guns to their heads in despair.

The 33-year-old refugee’s story is now well-known, thanks in large part to a Western Sydney University advertisement that has been viewed almost 2.5 million times.

It is about to be even better known. On Monday night Mr Adut was named NSW n of the Year for 2017 and is in the running to take out the national title on January 25.

The child soldier-turned-Sydney criminal lawyer beat to the coveted title Indigenous broadcaster and reconciliation champion Stan Grant, burns survivor and ironwoman Turia Pitt and biomedical engineer Jordan Nguyen.

In a powerful Day address this year, Mr Adut spoke of the pain of being displaced as a child and the yearning for belonging.

“I was denied the right to become an initiated member of my tribe,” he said. “The mark of ‘inclusiveness’ was denied to me.

“I had to wait until I became an n citizen to know that I belonged.”

NSW Premier Mike Baird, who made the announcement at the Museum of Contemporary Art, said Mr Adut “represents the very best of what makes our country great, and has channelled his success into helping hundreds of people in the state’s Sudanese community navigate their way through the n legal system”.

An emotional Mr Adut joked: “I want to cry but I just have to man up.”

He said a person was not an n because they were born in but because was born in them.

What a person did for their country was what made it meaningful, he said.

“I am an n for the rest of my life,” Mr Deng said.

He added that he did not think a 33-year-old deserved the award.

“What am I going to do with it?” he said.

“However, I understand how important it is.”

Mr Baird also named “celebrity doctor” John Knight, 89, who founded the Medi-Aid Centre Foundation in 1973 with his late wife Noreen to provide accommodation for the frail and elderly, as NSW Senior n of the Year.

Reconciliation champion Arthur Alla, 27, was named Young n of the Year for his work setting up Red Earth, which allows Indigenous ns living in remote areas to host young people from the city to immerse them in Indigenous culture.

The NSW Local Hero is Josephine Peter, 83, who was honoured for her tireless volunteer work in Broken Hill over 70 years, including knitting hundreds of pairs of socks for n troops, working as a telephone counsellor and supporting the Smith Family.

Mr Adut, who survived being shot at the age of 12, was settled in western Sydney in 1998 after being rescued by the United Nations.

He taught himself to read while working the night shift at a Blacktown petrol station and later graduated with a law degree from WSU.He is now studying for his second master of laws, this time in criminal prosecution, at Wollongong University.

A co-founder of AC Law Group, a law firm with offices in Sydney, Redfern and Blacktown, Mr Adut helps troubled youths in western Sydney through pro bono cases.

He was awarded the NSW Law Society president’s medal on October 27 in recognition of his contribution to law and justice in the community.

Mr Adut has also turned the tragedy of his brother’s death in 2014 into a legacy, establishing the John Mac foundation to provide higher education scholarships to students from refugee backgrounds.

John Mac Acuek, 42, was killed trying to evacuate civilians caught up in the fighting in South Sudan.

Mr Baird, whose father Bruce was famously outspoken in the Howard government over its asylum seeker policies, has described Mr Adut as “living proof of what people can achieve when they are given the opportunity and we as a nation share our luck”.

“My genuine and honest fear is what will happen to if we shut our doors to people such as Deng, whether it be out of fear or ignorance,” Mr Baird said in his Day address this year.

“We have a choice to continue on the path that brought this nation to where and who we are today, or we can let fear blind us and hate infect us.”

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China v South Africa cricket 2016: Joe Burns, Callum Ferguson drafted into Chinan Test squad

Perth:  Shaken have drafted in batsmen Joe Burns and Callum Ferguson for this week’s second Test against South Africa as they seek to rebound from a 177-run crunching in the series opener in Perth.
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The inclusion of Burns and Ferguson for the Hobart Test, beginning on Saturday, is a backflip from coach Darren Lehmann’s declaration as late as Sunday that the same 12-man squad picked for Perth would be used in Hobart – despite already knowing Shaun Marsh was injured.

The heavy defeat at the WACA was compounded by Marsh’s broken little finger on his left hand on day one, ruling him out of the series. However, Marsh’s decision on whether he would opt for surgery – which he has – was not made until Monday.

Burns, dropped after the second Test in Sri Lanka, is set to open with David Warner.

The uncapped Ferguson, who turns 32 this month, could replace Voges, who has a hamstring twinge and will be assessed, or even allrounder Mitch Marsh if seeks greater specialist batting depth. If Voges does play, he is likely to be batting for his Test future after his recent struggles.

South n Ferguson has averaged 41.43 in 30 one-day internationals and has a first-class average of 40.23. Ferguson has begun the domestic summer well, thumping a century at the WACA.

The spotlight Lehmann, who is also a selector, intensifies, for have struggled since he was reappointed in August until the end of 2019. This extension came a year before his contract was to expire.

Despite a final-day rally, n cricket has much to answer after the heavy defeat to a South African side on Monday missing their captain and best batsman, A.B. de Villiers, and, for the most of the Perth Test, fast-bowling superstar, Dale Steyn.

It was ‘s first defeat in a summer opener since losing to the West Indies at the Gabba in 1988.

This latest defeat comes after a losing 3-0 Test whitewash on the winter tour of Sri Lanka, and a 5-0 losing one-day series in South Africa, heaping more pressure on the national selectors and team performance boss, Pat Howard.

Skipper Steve Smith said Marsh, having just played before his home crowd, was devastated by the injury.

“He’s been playing very well, at the moment he’s pretty shattered. Hopefully, the surgery goes well and he returns soon,” Smith said.

‘s catching in Perth, an area highlighted for improvement on the eve of the series, was patchy, while the resting policy remains under fire, for Mitchell Starc was underdone, having been left frustrated at being prevented by sports science staff from bowling the amount of overs he had wanted to in warm-up Sheffield Shield clash. It’s understood the selectors had wanted him to deliver more overs.

Since the tour of Sri Lanka began, Warner has had two opening partners, Burns and Marsh, while Usman Khawaja and Smith have also had modest returns.​

Warner’s past eight knocks have mustered 295 runs at 36.87 – his career average is 48.6, while Khawaja, including his fighting 97 on Monday, has 156 runs at 26 in his past six innings. He had been dropped for the final Test in Sri Lanka.

Smith, averaging 58.55 overall in Tests, has 281 runs at 35.12 in his past eight innings, while Voges, averaging 72 before this Test, has 146 runs at 18.25.

Warner and Marsh provided the ideal platform with a 158-run stand in the first innings at the WACA, with Warner making 97. But, by the time Marsh (63) became the fourth wicket to fall, that great start had been wasted, with the hosts crumbling to 4-181. In their second innings, the ns lost their opening four wickets for 146.

“(It’s) disappointing. Obviously, after the first day we were in a reasonable position to bowl the out for 240. At 1-150 odd we weren’t able to capitalise from there and we weren’t able to claw our our way back,” Smith said.

“We have had a few collapses of late in Test cricket which have let us down when we really have been a position to drive the game. It’s something that we have to look at and try and improve on.”

Warner said the lack of consistent partnerships had proven costly – and this needed to change in Hobart.

“When we look at the middle order, and top order as well, we talk about the top four going on and scoring big hundreds. We have failed to do that in our last three, four Tests,” he said.

“We really do need someone to do that. The middle order have to try and, obviously, work on building partnerships and that is the key to any success in Test match cricket – you have to build partnerships. We saw Elgar and Duminy do that fantastically for South Africa.

“We always are trying our best to go out there and do everything we can to build partnerships and score runs as a unit. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen – that’s cricket. We are athletes, we are chosen to do a job and we have to do that.”

There is much for the selectors and Howard to debate, while several players are fighting to save their careers.

Mitchell Marsh was told he needed a century in the opening two Tests to save his spot. He was dismissed without scoring in the first innings in Perth and for 26 on Monday after a controversial decision review. While he bowled well, that elusive, career-stabilising ton has yet to materialise.

South African skipper Faf du Plessis has been praised for his man management, in particular how he handled debutant spinner, Keshav Maharaj. Du Plessis used him at appropriate times through the Test, and his field placings were good.

This contrasted with the criticism of Smith, whose handling of Nathan Lyon, overlooked during the crucial morning session on Saturday, was hotly debated.

Lyon took 2-38 in the first innings but was left with the worst return of his career in the second innings, finishing wicketless and conceding 146 runs off 34 overs.

Former n allrounder Brendon Julian said Lyon, ‘s most prolific finger spinner, had been so bad selectors should consider dropping him for the third and final Test against the Proteas in Adelaide and replace him with NSW left-arm spinner, Steve O’Keefe.

Veteran paceman Peter Siddle claimed three wickets in Perth but struggled to generate speeds of 130km/h. Two years ago, Lehmann said he needed Siddle to be in the 140km/h mark. He could be replaced by Joe Mennie, the 12th man in Perth.

The Proteas head to Hobart on the verge of claiming their third straight series win in . Steyn will return home for surgery on his damaged shoulder, with bounce-king Morne Morkel or Kyle Abbott set to replace him in the XI.

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Netball: Melbourne teams set sights on Rod Laver arena

The launch of the impressive Collingwood Magpies netball team in September. Photo: Eddie JimWhile Rod Laver Arena is the ultimate destination for both Melbourne teams in the newly named and fixtured Suncorp Super Netball league, with the first perhaps as early as 2018, the Vixens and Magpies will split their games between Hisense Arena and the smaller Margaret Court Arena in the meantime.
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Netball Victoria chief executive Rosie King said the Vixens’ three games at MCA would potentially present some capacity issues, considering the intimate venue holds around 3000 fewer spectators than Hisense. The Vixens will also have to play three 8.45pm Saturday games, with the late timeslot less-than-ideal for regional fans and children.

“Generally we’re OK with the fixture,” said King, who was recently lured from AFL club Geelong to head Netball Victoria and, by extension, the Vixens. “Those three games at Margaret Court will certainly put pressure on ticket availability, so we’re definitely suggesting that people get in and buy their tickets early.”

Asked whether, in an ideal world, all seven Vixens home games would be staged at Hisense, King said: “In an ideal world we’d be playing down the road at Rod Laver. That would increase our capacity to 15,000, so that’s what we’d like, and certainly we’d be hoping that we can achieve that [for 2018] once that’s been redeveloped.

“We’ll certainly be having the appropriate discussions at that time. It’s something that we’ve discussed internally and that we’d like to explore.”

Clubs were invited to provide feedback on their draft fixture, and King said the Vixens had done so. Their local rivals, the Magpies, have the same mix of eight Saturday night, five Sunday afternoon and one Friday night game, but just one TV-driven 8.45pm start. The two Melbourne clubs meet in rounds one and seven at Hisense.

“I think on one hand we could be disappointed with those late games, but on the other hand, it’s going to appeal to a different market that we’re probably not already in, so it will provide other opportunities,” King said. “We can think about other hospitality offerings and other types of entertainment … not to isolate our current fans but to also enhance what we’ve got. And I guess our job is to work and do the best job that we can with what we’ve been presented. We’re not unhappy with the fixture; we’ll just work with it within our capabilities.”

Collingwood, too, were in diplomatic mode after the release of the eight-team national league’s inaugural fixture, despite one of three new clubs – along with the Giants and Sunshine Coast Lightning – having been designated just two home games in the first six rounds. Jen McIntyre, the Pies’ general manager of netball, said the club was “really happy” with the draw, highlighted by the local derbies around the country in round one, regular family friendly Sunday games, the double-header initiative, and few clashes with Collingwood’s AFL program.

“We’ve only got one [8.45pm start, which is the second of a double-header, and with the double-header comes the opportunity to have more netball,” McIntyre said. “And in the part I guess there’s been that criticism of netball that it’s over so quickly, the game’s only for an hour, so when you’re coming along at seven o’clock on a Saturday night, at least you’ve got two games and I guess as a family you probably need to prepare for that so that you can get home and get the kids to bed. We’ve got one and we’ll go into that as positively as we can.”

Also notable is the fact that, unlike the the alternate-home-weekend system the AFL tends to employ with its same-state teams such as Fremantle and West Coast, some rounds will host two games in Melbourne and some, including round two, none at all.

“I guess I had envisaged there would be netball in Melbourne every weekend but that’s not the case,” McIntyre said. “Yes, the double-headers do complicate that, and venue availability as well.

“We’ve got a couple of games at Margaret Court, which we’re really happy about, because it feels quite intimate when you’re watching it. But we are hoping that we’ll be playing in Rod Laver in a couple of years.”

The 14-round regular season will run from February 18 to May 25, featuring two prime time Saturday night matches and the other two in Friday night and Sunday afternoon timeslots. A three-week finals series will follow, culminating with the grand final on Saturday, June 17.

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China vs South Africa Test cricket: China suffer heavy defeat at WACA

head to Hobart with nearly half its squad playing for their Test futures after being comprehensively beaten by South Africa in Perth.
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A team that reclaimed the No.1 Test ranking earlier this year faces major changes unless there is significant improvement in the Apple Isle.

The series is on the line in the second Test and so are the careers of several underperforming players. Adam Voges and Mitchell Marsh are the two under intense scrutiny while pressure is also building on spinner Nathan Lyon and veteran Peter Siddle.

Voges’ situation has been compounded by a hamstring problem while Shaun Marsh’s career has again been stalled by injury. Joe Burns and Callum Ferguson have been drafted into a 13-man squad.

A gutsy knock from a defiant Peter Nevill nearly pushed the game beyond tea but at no stage did , dismissed for 361, seem likely to stave off an undermanned Proteas attack.

The 177-run defeat follows a terrible tour in Sri Lanka and leaves one loss away from their third consecutive series failure against South Africa on these shores. It was the first time has lost the opening Test of a home summer since being beaten by Viv Richards’ mighty West Indies in 1988.

Visions of a great escape were shown to be delusions as ‘s top six let the team down again. A cracking pitch that provided some uneven bounce did not help, but the hosts should never have found themselves in such an unenviable situation.

Excuses will fall on deaf ears. This is by no means a star South African team but rather one in transition. In fact it’s one of their least accomplished in the post-apartheid era, missing superstar batsman AB de Villiers and, for much of the game, their champion fast bowler Dale Steyn.

Their game changers were 21-year-old paceman Kagiso Rabada, who made his Test debut almost 12 months to the day, and a pair of batsmen, Dean Elgar and JP Duminy, with a batting average in the 30s.

‘s bowlers had given the side the perfect start only for it to be flushed away by the batsmen. Leeway is given for capitulations on the raging turners of the subcontinent but not in the familiar surrounds of home.

David Warner and Usman Khawaja showed their class but neither were capable of matching Elgar or Duminy, who showed old-fashioned grit and determination in taking the game away from the hosts.

At 37, Voges’ days in the baggy green appear numbered despite an average of 67. With selectors needing to look to the future, even a big score next week may not be enough for the veteran if it’s in a losing cause.

Marsh was again unable to handle the swinging ball, trapped in front for 26 by Rabada. Though he has reason to feel aggrieved by the ball-tracking system it was his error that left him vulnerable.

Frustratingly for Marsh, he was showing encouraging signs, leaving with confidence and striking the ball well.

The little hope had of saving the game faded when Khawaja failed in his bid to overturn a leg before wicket decision to Duminy on 97.

A century would have been just reward for the elegant left-hander even if he had encountered several close shaves against the impressive Rabada.

The end should have been nigh but Nevill’s stubbornness made the Proteas work a lot harder than expected for the spoils, which could prove beneficial for ‘s chances in Hobart.

The wicketkeeper was a picture of concentration, reaching his half-century shortly before tea. He remained unbeaten on 60. It was a fine contribution under immense pressure by a player who is yet to stamp himself as ‘s long-term Test stumper despite his sound work with the gloves. More performances like this and that might not be far away.

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Chinan families still face a long wait for intercountry adoption

Deborra-lee Furness, pictured with husband Hugh Jackman and children Oscar and Ava, is the founder of Adopt Change. Assistant Social Services Zed Seselja says children need stability. Photo: Graham Tidy
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n couples wishing to adopt children from overseas still face a lengthy wait despite a federal government push to make the process easier.

While the Dutch government is considering a halt on intercountry adoptions following a report released last week which found children from overseas are effectively being sold into adoption in the Netherlands under current laws, the n government has opened programs with a number of new countries in the past year, including Poland, Bulgaria and Latvia. A planned program with the US will not go ahead but the n government is continuing to investigate an arrangement with Vietnam, according to the Attorney-General’s Department.

The Intercountry Adoption service was launched last year with the aim of assisting couples who wish to adopt a child from overseas.

Intercountry adoptions have gone backwards in recent years with figures from the n Institute of Health and Welfare showing they steadily declined from 129 in 2012-13 to 83 in 2014-15. New intercountry adoption figures are expected to be released next month.

Chief executive of adoption lobby group Adopt Change Renee Carter said adopting a child from overseas can take up to five years so it would take time to measure whether the federal government’s move was making a difference.

Ms Carter said foreign adoptions are under increasing scrutiny following accusations of child trafficking.

“There has been growing concern about ethical adoption,” she said

“There are questions around some orphanages adopting children who aren’t genuine orphans so there are concerns about child trafficking.”

According to figures from UNICEF, 132 million children have lost one or both parents. Ms Carter said there was a growing international drive to support in-country support for orphaned children where possible.

“The initial step should be adopting a child within their own country but if that can’t happen, if all avenues have been exhausted, intercountry adoption should be considered as an alternative to the impact of institutions and orphanages on children,” she said.

“It’s always about the rights of the child. The long term impact of an orphanage in terms of health outcomes, relationships and development needs to be weighed up.”

Adopt Change was founded by actor Deborra-lee Furness, who has two adopted children with husband Hugh Jackman, to promote awareness about adoption.

Lynelle Long, founder of Intercountry Adoptee Voices and an adoptee from Vietnam, has serious doubts about ‘s intercountry adoption arrangements, particularly with Bulgaria.

“Historical efforts to make things quicker faster with less red tape at the federal government level mean that the child is the one who suffers and continues to have no rights or say,” she said.

“We as adult intercountry adoptees believe if is going to do intercountry adoption to find children for couples, then at least we should have highly ethical and transparent programs.”

Ms Carter called for greater focus on n adoptions, citing the ballooning number of children in out-of-home care which has topped 40,000 nationally.

“There is a large number of people who would like to adopt in , often they are foster parents, but there are many barriers to the process,” she said.

“The logical conclusion is to streamline the process here, make it easier for local adoptions to take place and fix the problems in our own backyard.”

Assistant Minister for Social Services Zed Seselja​ said the instability of out-of-home care could be detrimental to children.

“Far too many children go through too many placements in out-of-home care with no stability and permanency is never a reality,” he said. “These children are at significant risk of poor long term outcomes.”

Community services ministers will discuss improving permanency for children in out-of-home care at a meeting in Sydney on Friday.

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