End to compulsory APS retirement posed cost problems

The Keating government agreed to abolish forced retirements for its public servants despite the potentially escalating costs of keeping people in work after turning 65, newly-released cabinet documents reveal.
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Papers released on Monday by the National Archives of show the Labor government in 1995 grappled with possible growing compensation bills and voluntary redundancy costs that threatened to accompany any decision to remove compulsory retirements.

Prime Minister Paul Keating’s cabinet agreed in-principle to abolish the age limit for government employees, as long as new public service legislation was formed preventing bureaucrats keeping their jobs regardless of performance.

Paul Keating’s cabinet decided in-principle to support an end to compulsory retirement for public servants. Photo: David Bartho

New public service laws came into effect in 1999 removing compulsory retirement for public servants on the grounds of age, and last year 7 per cent of the bureaucracy’s workforce was aged more than 60.

The 1994-95 cabinet documents warned that potentially greater use of voluntary redundancies to rid agencies of staff who could no longer be forced to retire may add up to $26 million in costs between 1995 to 2020.

Ministers were also warned of greater costs if younger public servants were displaced by those aged over 65 as agencies downsized.

If roles identified in the future as redundant were occupied by staff over 65, 241 redundancies over the next five years could cost the government $9.3 million, ministers were told.

Potentially growing costs could make the compensation scheme for public servants unviable without change, adding up to $13 million per annum in premiums, and $10 million and compounding in outstanding liability for new claims.

Cabinet documents show the Keating government agreed to let public servants work past 65 on the same terms and conditions as other APS employees, except under a temporary arrangement that restricted superannuation payments and based their compensation on an income maintenance scheme managed by the federal workplace insurer Comcare.

The Public Service Commission in 1995 rubbished concerns about increased costs of redundancy payments flowing from the removal of the age 65 barrier.

“The inappropriate use of redundancy as a means of separating staff would be alleviated if more effective strategies for dealing with diminished efficiency and under-performance were developed,” it said in a submission.

The government’s move to abolish compulsory retirement came after the Office of International Law told it the arrangement did not meet its obligations under an international convention against workplace discrimination.

Its debate came after laws came into effect in 1994 prohibiting employers from sacking workers on the grounds of age.

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Kiama Woolies worker wins payout over angry bird attack

A spat over liability for a damaging bird attack at Kiama Village Shopping Centre has been decided in the Workers Compensation Commission.Woolworths has been ordered to compensatea staffer at its Kiama store after the woman’s eye was “severely injured” by a vicious swooping bird known to guard the entryway to the shopping complex.
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Anita Smithwas almost inside the Kiama Village Shopping Centre when the bird, a nativepeewee, set her in its sights onMay 14.

She required surgery in mid-July to repair the resulting injury, described in a compensation claim as an“inturned central part of the right eye flap”.

Ms Smith, acustomer service officer for the supermarket since 2010,was among at least10 people who required medical attention as a result of the bird’s attacks, according to an area ophthalmologist interviewed by Fairfax at the time.

Kiama council installed fake owls in a failed bid to to deter the bird.

In a decision handed down last month, the Workers Compensation Commission ordered the supermarket to pay Ms Smith almost $17,000 in lost wages. The sum was calculated after 25 weeks of reduced employment. The company must alsopay Ms Smith’s medical and rehabilitation bills.

The commission rejected Woolworths Ltd’s submissionthat the incident had nothing to do with Ms Smith’s employment.

Counsel for the supermarket had argued she was“not performing any work” at the time of the injury.

A Woolworths store manager had earlier denied liability, instead placing blame on centre management for not acting.

“Centre management had previously been informed regarding a number of bird attacks and chose to do nothing about this until this and other serious incidents happened”, the company countered, in its submission.

Ms Smith was en route to her workplace when she was attacked. Sheleft her car in the staff car park before walking along an open-air path towards the shopping centre’s automatic sliding doors.

The commission’s arbitrator, John Harris, found an employerdoes not escape liability due to the fault of another party“in this case, the apparent failure by thecentre management to do something about the dangerous peewee”.

Ms Smith’s employment brought her to the point where the injury occurredand that the injury“arose out of the employment”, Mr Harris found.

“It is extremely unlikely that Ms Smith would have been attacked by the peewee at that time, had she not been in the course of her employment.”

The commission noted Kiama council had madeattempts–ultimately futile–to deter the bird by placing two imitation owls in the area.

The bird was eventually destroyed after Kiama council sought a permit from National Parks and Wildlife to cull the bird.

Council workers cordoned off the area before the bird was shot dead on June 20.

Illawarra Mercury

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Ash Barty suffers shock loss in Brisbane

Ash Barty has put on a brave face after her shock defeat in the first round of the Brisbane International, with the world number 17 and tournament eight seed humbled by red-hot Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko.
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???Barty had a stunning year in 2017 and entered this summer as ‘s highest-ranked player. But she crashed back to earth with a decent thud after losing 6-3 6-2 in front of friends and family at her hometown event.

The 21-year-old from Ipswich was chasing the game from the outset as 28-year-old Tsurenko, ranked 42, landed 63 per cent of her first serves and dished out five aces.

Barty could find a home for just 53 per cent of her serves, while she was outgunned on the baseline as her timing deserted her in front of an arena that grew quieter and quieter as the result became inevitable.

“She did play very well and tonight, for me, the polish wasn’t quite there. Any players in the top 50, when you’re not playing your best, they’re going to punish you,” Barty said.

“It’s obviously disappointing. It’s not the way I envisaged my first tournament of the year. There were flashes of what we wanted, tonight I couldn’t quite string it all together.”

Barty hasn’t been accustomed to playing at home with such lofty expectations. She started last year ranked 271 in the world and wasn’t sure what she wanted out of the sport. Prior to that, she played a season of WBBL cricket for the Brisbane Heat.

Incredibly, she was the top-ranked n woman by October and ended the year ranked 17, having defeated five top 10 players along the way.

She said that success would ensure she didn’t dwell on her defeat. She is still alive in the doubles draw in Brisbane with partner Casey Dellacqua and will also play in Sydney ahead of the n Open.

“I didn’t work hard all last year and work my butt off during the off-season to spit the dummy after one match. We get back on the doubles court tomorrow, focus on that and then move onto Sydney.

“I love playing here. I’m disappointed I couldn’t do a bit better. But I try and approach every match exactly the same.”

She admitted there were some ‘butterflies’ before the match but insisted it was the brilliance of Tsurenko that got the better of her, not the occasion.

“A few butterflies, first match of the season, at home, but it was excitement more than nerves. It wasn’t quite there for me tonight. That’s sport.

“It’s a little bit different (being in the spotlight) but I prepare for every single match exactly the same. It’s exciting playing at home but we’ve still got a few weeks left in the summer and we’re gearing up for the n Open.”

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Canberra home price growth among country’s strongest

Canberra ended 2017 on a high for the property market with dwelling values up one per cent over the final quarter of the year, according to CoreLogic.
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The CoreLogic Hedonic Home Value Index report said the capital’s dwelling prices edged 0.2 per cent higher in December and it was 4.9 per cent higher throughout the year.

The report found houses in the capital are rising at more than double the rate of unit values, with house prices up 5.8 per cent over the year while unit prices are only just beating inflation at 2.1 per cent. !function(e,t,s,i){var n=”InfogramEmbeds”,o=e.getElementsByTagName(“script”),d=o[0],r=/^http:/.test(e.location)?”http:”:”https:”;if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=r+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var a=e.createElement(“script”);a.async=1,a.id=s,a.src=i,d.parentNode.insertBefore(a,d)}}(document,0,”infogram-async”,”https://e.infogram苏州夜总会招聘/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js”);

National property markets ended 2017 with a whimper, with half of ‘s capital cities recording falling house prices in December. These declines are likely to continue over 2018, according head of CoreLogic research Tim Lawless who said the transition towards weaker housing market conditions had been clear but gradual.

“From a macro perspective, late 2016 marked a peak in the pace of capital gains across with national dwelling values rising at the rolling quarterly pace of 3.7 per cent over the three months to November,” Mr Lawless said.

“In 2017 we saw growth rates and transactional activity gradually lose steam, with national month-on-month capital gains slowing to 0 per cent in October and November before turning negative in December.” !function(e,t,s,i){var n=”InfogramEmbeds”,o=e.getElementsByTagName(“script”),d=o[0],r=/^http:/.test(e.location)?”http:”:”https:”;if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=r+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var a=e.createElement(“script”);a.async=1,a.id=s,a.src=i,d.parentNode.insertBefore(a,d)}}(document,0,”infogram-async”,”https://e.infogram苏州夜总会招聘/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js”);

Among the capitals, the weakest conditions are concentrated in Sydney and Darwin.

Mr Lawless said, “Sydney’s housing market has become the most significant drag on the headline growth figures.”

Sydney dwelling values were down 0.9 per cent over the month to be 2.1 per cent lower over the December quarter.

Hobart, Melbourne and Canberra had the strongest growth, up 12.3 per cent, 8.9 per cent and 4.9 per cent respectively.

“In 2018, the housing market performance is likely to be significantly different relative to previous years. We’re likely to see lower to negative growth rates across previously strong markets, more cautious buyers, and ongoing regulator vigilance of credit standards and investor activity,” Mr Lawless said.

– With Jennifer Duke

Follow Han Nguyen on Facebook and Twitter. !function(e,t,s,i){var n=”InfogramEmbeds”,o=e.getElementsByTagName(“script”),d=o[0],r=/^http:/.test(e.location)?”http:”:”https:”;if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=r+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var a=e.createElement(“script”);a.async=1,a.id=s,a.src=i,d.parentNode.insertBefore(a,d)}}(document,0,”infogram-async”,”https://e.infogram苏州夜总会招聘/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js”);

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It’s my moment to go: Whateley explains ABC defection

Gerard Whateley has opened up about why he swapped the ABC for a much smaller audience on Melbourne radio station SEN.
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The veteran broadcaster, who announced his shock departure from Grandstand and Offsiders on Monday night, said after 13 years at ABC it was time to take a risk.

“I’m 43, I’ve been there [the ABC] since I was in my 20s,” he told Fairfax Media. “It’s my moment to go and have a crack at something else.

“I hope people will come with me and give me a chance,” he said. “I’m not changing. They [SEN] want me for who I am. I love every sport that comes through Melbourne. We’re a broad church and I want to be a conduit to that broad church.”

Eyebrows were raised on Monday night when Whateley announced he wouldn’t get to complete his Ashes commentary for the ABC. But the sports commentator said there was no bad blood between himself and the ABC.

Whateley also denied jumping ship for a bigger pay cheque, and said SEN was not a stepping stone to an ABC rival such as 3AW. The Age understands the 43-year-old has turned down offers from 3AW, which commands the largest share of Melbourne’s radio listeners, on at least two occasions.

“I’ll be in Minneapolis for the Super Bowl,” he said. “I’ll be leading that coverage on SEN. That’s serious. That level of commitment and audaciousness, that got me.”

However, sources have said Whateley will get a handsome salary and may receive other benefits such as equity. SEN’s new owner, Craig Hutchison’s Crocmedia, is looking to rapidly expand the radio station’s reach and broadcasting rights.

In addition to becoming SEN’s chief sports caller, the 43-year-old will also host a morning sports program called Whateley. His first day replacing Kevin Bartlett will be Monday, January 29. Bartlett is moving to an afternoon slot.

In the final radio survey of 2017, SEN held an 3.2 point overall share over Melbourne’s radio audience – well below 3AW’s 15 point share and ABC’s 9.3 point share in the local market.

Representatives for ABC wouldn’t be drawn on when a replacement for Whateley would be announced.

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Baklava cheesecake puts Zaaki Expresso on the map

The road to fame: Zaaki Espresso’s baklava cheesecake and Campos coffee. Picture: Marina NeilZaaki Espresso, 402A Maitland Rd, Mayfield West, Mon-Fri: 6am-3:30pm, Sat: 7am-2pm.
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Considering how many coffee enthusiasts swear by the quality of Campos coffee, it is still fairly difficult to find a café that grinds their beans here in Newcastle. The famous Sydney roastery is represented locally by two large cafes and only a couple of other smaller outlets around the entirety of our coffee-loving city.

This commitment to exclusive supply is not unusual in the coffee game. Established roasting houses like Campos always make sure that their clients – that is, the café – can serve their customers – that is, you and me – a coffee blend that no other place on the block can get their hands on. In a larger coffee market like the Sydney CBD, this can often present impossible problems. In a single kilometre radius surrounding the Centrepoint tower, Campos roasters currently supplies their beans to 11 different espresso bars.

Magic happens: Zaaki Espresso barista Penny Saris. Picture: Marina Neil

In Newcastle we don’t have anything like those sorts of issues. Over in Mayfield West, Zaaki Espresso owner Penny Saris does not just have the Campos Superior Blend all to herself, but she is pouring her coffees as skilfully as any inner Sydney barista. Her latte art is the obvious product of a good few years of experience behind a machine and is definitely impressive. The service is warm and professional. My double shot flat white ($4) arrives at a perfect temperature and has everything that a flagship blend from a famous coffee roaster should have.

If this was all that was on offer at this cafe, it would be more than worth a visit. But only some of the story of Zaaki Espresso actually revolves around the coffee and the warmth with which it is served. Some might say that an even better tale can be told by the blends being put together in the kitchen.

It is in here that the Greek Pennyand her Jordanian husband Aras Ezmigna have united to create flavours that may not be on any other menu in Newcastle. Aras only uses spices imported directly from Jordan and when sprinkled over Shakshuka ($14) – a Middle Eastern dish of eggs baked in chilli and tomato – or tossed through his house made felafels, they bring a freshness and authenticity of flavour that is instantly recognisable.

Penny is equally guided by her heritage when creating her Greek-inspired sweets. Regular Zaaki customers will not hesitate to tell you about the house-madebaklava ($3.50)Turkish delight andher sumptuous pistachio cheesecake (both$6).

Yet Penny can bake you something that has become more famous than all of these combined. It may be because it’s a cake that in itself is a combination – the nutty and crunchy sweetness of a classic baklava baked atop a smooth and creamy cheesecake base. If Penny has become famous for something apart from her coffee, then her baklava cheesecake ($6 slice/$45 whole) is undoubtedly the culprit. Unique, inventive and a very different type of exclusive blend.

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Note leads man to find red-bellied black snake in car engine

The car, the snake and the note. Photos: supplied”This afternoon a red belly slithered up into your front left tyre. Please be careful,” the note read.
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Despite the warning, Michael Garbutt was still caught by surprise when he found a venomous snake under the bonnet of his car.

Out for an evening walk at Kurnell on December 28, he returned to his car parked next to the skate park to find the note on his windscreen.

“So I popped the bonnet and there it was coiled up underneath,” the high school teacher said.

“To say I was shocked is an understatement. On reflection I don’t think I would have put my hand out to pop the bonnet if I had known it was there.

“My main concern was how do I get rid of it?

“I looked at Google to find a local snake catcher and called him up.”

Michael found the number of Andrew Melrose of Shire Snake Catchers of Engadine who headed straight out to Kurnell.

“By the time he got there the snake had slithered down into the engine,” Michael said.

“It took about an hour for the snake catcher to coax it out.

“The snake was trying to bite the snake hook. The guy ended up catching it with his hand and just chucked it in a bag.”

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Mr Melrose said red-bellied black snakes are common at Kurnell.

“I had the contract to catch snakes with the Caltex oil refinery and I’ve [caught] hundreds of black snakes out there,” he said.

“Because the peninsula is swampland the snakes live there because they eat frogs and eels. They are out there but they are quite inoffensive unless you touch them.”

Mr Melrose said it is common to find them in cars.

“If they get startled they look for the first place that is safe.

“The place I found it was very bare. There was no place for the snake to escape. People would have startled it and the only place for it to hide was the car.

“The driver could have driven off unaware and parked and the snake would have left the car when it felt safe.

“Snakes will do anything to stay away. That’s why they get into a car.

“It was in the guard of the the wheel. I tapped the metal to make it move. It went under the motor to the front bumper.

“I tapped that area and it climbed up into the guard. I tapped the metal again and it crawled into the end of the coil suspension in the right-hand font wheel. And that’s when I tried to gently coax it out by touching its body.

“Its head came out and it started biting the tyre. It slid down onto the ground and that’s when I got it.”

Mr Melrose said he wasn’t worried.

“I’ve done it my whole life. I can read the animal. It looks simple but if you haven’t done it before you can get killed real quick.

“I touch it gently because I don’t want to hurt the snake. That’s why I use my hands and not gloves. The less pressure on it the less likely it is to bite.

“We’ve still got a few months of the snake season to go and we are coming into a time when they are on the move.”

Mr Melrose reminded people that snakes only bite out of defence.

“No snake ever attacks,” he said.

“The snake doesn’t need rescuing. It’s the people that need rescuing.”

The Leader

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Chinan child sex abusers on notice in Thailand

Girls working in Pattaya, Thailand.n Tony Kirwan, 47, has overseen the rescue of more than 1,400 children from sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Mr Kirwan established Destiny Rescue in 2001, his team works undercover with anti-trafficking police, rescuing children, making arrests and closing brothels. DR has worked with police on numerous raids, including three successful raids in 2015, which saw 12 girls rescued and six pimps arrested. Those children have been cared for in one of Destiny Rescue??????s 13 homes around Southeast Asia.Pattaya: n paedophiles hoping to stay under the radar in Thailand are facing tougher scrutiny from a Royal Thai Police-led unit tasked with policing sex crimes against children.
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Up to 180 suspected foreign child sex abusers, including ns, regularly visit or live in Pattaya, a city notorious for its seedy nightlife, according to a child protection organisation.

Supagon Noja, director of Thailand’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Abuse Centre, says most of the suspects escape justice using increasingly sophisticated ways to interact with children, including through the internet.

“They are very clever and difficult to catch,” Supagon told Fairfax Media while flicking through files on almost 700 suspects that he has collated over years. Among the suspects in his files are ministers of religion, entertainers, retirees and school teachers.

“They move frequently – often between Thailand, the Philippines and Cambodia,” he said.

But Supagon, whose centre is caring for 41 abused children aged between seven and 17, said he expected to see increasing prosecutions after the establishment of Thailand’s Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce (TICAC), with backing from Interpol and other international police agencies.

Thailand’s military government set up the taskforce in January last year after experts warned that rising internet use in south-east Asia was fuelling the spread of material that is abusive and sexually exploitative of children.

Internet availability in the region has grown to about 50 per cent of the population but the figure rises to 58 per cent in the Philippines, where there is a booming cybersex industry.

In partnership with Philippine law enforcement agencies the International Justice Mission (IJM) has rescued 1275 children and women from sex trafficking over several years. The most notorious case there is that of former Melbourne businessman Peter Scully, a master of the “dark web” who is facing trial on 75 charges, including directing a video involving horrific torture and injuries to an 18-month-old baby.

In Thailand, where the problem is growing, internet availability reaches 67 per cent.

Neil Walsh, who heads the global cybercrime program of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said last year paedophiles were spreading, at a “phenomenal” rate, sexually exploitative materials through an overlay of online networks that cannot be easily accessed.

“The more we work harder to remove the contents, the more they make it harder to find,” he said, adding that Thailand had become the “webcam centre for child pornography,” stripping the Philippines of the title.

Speaking on the sideline of a conference on child sex abuse in Bangkok, Jon Rouse, a member of a Queensland police unit that targets online child sex abuse networks across the world, warned the sharing of abusive and sexually child exploitation material will continue to increase in south-east Asia.

He cited a survey last year which identified 3600 individual internet addresses in the Thai capital as having shared child exploitation material over just seven days.

last year legislated to stop registered child sex offenders travelling overseas in what officials called a “world first” in the fight against child sex tourism.

The law will affect an estimated 20,000 registered offenders who have served their sentences but are still under supervision and must report to authorities.

But 46 year-old Supagon, who has been tracking child sex abusers in Pattaya for 27 years, said he believes ns who have never been caught are among foreign predators in Pattaya, where there are several hundred street children.

“We will not stop working to expose these people who come to Thailand to hurt Thai children…they have gotten away with it in the past but their time is coming,” he said.

Supagon, who is known as Kru Ja, said the abusers account for only a fraction of the millions of visitors to Thailand each year “but they damage our reputation as a good place to [visit].”

He said the victims were often street children recruited by Thai brokers who operate in an area of South Pattaya.

“I speak with the children and they tell me how they have been abused,” Supagon said.

“But it is very difficult to get them to testify in court. They are afraid.” Almost all the victims were boys, he said.

Supagon said only about 10 foreign child abuse suspects were prosecuted each year in Pattaya, where local authorities have been working to clean up its reputation as a sex tourism destination.

Interpol too has expanded its presence in the country to fight child sex abuse, recently hiring former Thai police Lieutenant-Colonel Apichart Hattasin, who for years led undercover operations in northern Thailand targeting foreign paedophiles.

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Winger leaves Wanderers after snubbing coach’s handshake

The personnel changes at Western Sydney Wanderers have continued under the reign of new coach Josep Gombau after Japanese winger Jumpei Kusukami and midfielder Jacob Melling agree to leave the club immediately.
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The departure of Kusukami comes 17 hours after he snubbed a handshake from Gombau when substituted late in the Wanderers’ 2-1 win over over Melbourne City on Monday night.

The 30-year-old came on in the 10th minute as a replacement for injured marquee Alvaro Cejudo but in an unusual circumstance, didn’t finish the match despite starting as a substitute. He was withdrawn in the 85th minute and replaced by striker Brendon Santalab.

Kusukami was visibly unhappy with the decision and appeared to brush a handshake from his coach in a curt exchange on the sideline.

It is understood both Kusukami has accepted an immediate end to his tenure with the Wanderers, having received offers to play elsewhere prior to Monday’s match against Melbourne. Kusukami leaves after making 38 appearances for the Wanderers over the past two seasons, scoring four goals. His departure means there are no Asian players in the A-League.

Twenty-two year-old midfielder Melling ends his two seasons with the Wanderers in a spell plagued by injury. It is understood Melling sought a mutual termination of his contract having accepted a deal to sign with Central Coast Mariners, set to be completed by the end of the week.

The departures of Kusukami and Melling follow former assistant coach Hayden Foxe as key figures who have left the club in little over a week.

The Wanderers are understood to be planning to use the departure of Kusukami as an opportunity to add another foreign player to their roster in the January transfer window.

Meanwhile, Gombau says he won’t deviate from his project to change the club’s football philosophy mid-season, despite making some minor tweaks on players’ advice to help snap their poor run of form.

The newly appointed Wanderers coach bought himself more time after Western Sydney fought hard to clinch a narrow 2-1 win over Melbourne City on Monday night to seal his first home win since taking charge of the club in early November.

“I don’t feel this pressure, I am very clear with what I would like to do and that’s the way I like to work,” Gombau said. “For me, at the end it’s my job. Every single coach has pressure. Every game is an exam … For me, it doesn’t change my mentality, it doesn’t change anything. I believe in one certain way to do the things, and I do the things like this but no pressure.”

Adhering to the process is the priority for Gombau who was pleased with the movement of his team on Monday night and says the target is to finish inside the top six.

“This year we need to be competitive, we have to try and finish in the top six to make the finals and after that everything can happen,” Gombau said.

Striker Oriol Riera played a pivotal role in guiding the Wanderers to a victory, scoring an equaliser before setting up the eventual winner. A determined performance from the Spanish marquee pleased fans demanding more commitment from the players and says the players spoke with coaches about tweaking their style of play, including returning to a more disciplined structure in defence.

“I think that we changed many things … the way the players and the staff think this way we’ll be very successful for us – more compact, more intensity in the fights, one v one, those moments,” Riera said. “I think today with this performance, we were very good on the field and most importantly, we must maintain this. That’s the most important.”

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New Ford Ranger ute fire wipes out 100 acres of wheat

A VICTORIANgrain grower believes more needs to be done to make vehicles safer for farm use, after his new ute sparked three spot fires on his property.
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Michael Sudholz said he was shocked after his new Ford Ranger started the fires on his property near Natimuk, in Victoria’s west, just before Christmas.

It comes afterFord announced more than 59,000 vehicles across were being recalled after a defect was discovered that could lead to fire.

“We were driving through the wheat stubble and the exhaust started three spot fires –you wouldn’t expect that from a 2017 ute,” Mr Sudholz said.

“We lost 100 acres of wheat, my son burnt his arm and our header driver burnt his fingers.

“We didn’t lose any machinery though, which was lucky.”

Mr Sudholz said he bought two new Ford Rangers last year, one in March and one in June, specifically for farm use.

He said he was lucky the fire didn’t do more damage.

“It wasn’t a bad day –it wasn’t windy at all, but if it was, it could have been a real disaster,” he said.

“We were very lucky to get away with the damage we had.

“The fire went through one paddock and into another –it was heading towards Natimuk and easily could have ended up there.

“It took out 100 acres in less than 20 minutes –we had six people in the paddock and machinery worth $2 million, it could have been muchworse.”

Read more:‘Deadly’ recalled airbags replaced with same faulty product

Mr Sudholz said he received an email from Ford about the recall the day after the fires.

“We had no information before that,” he said.

“It was a surpriseto find out that the ute started the fire and since then, I’ve heard of two other farmers in the district having the same problem.”

Mr Sudholz said more needed to be done to make vehicles safer.

“We buy these vehicles because we need to use them in dry conditions,” he said.

“Now many more utes are being fitted with new exhausts, so we could have a problem with other makes of vehicles.

“The government needs to look at these things –we need to be able to operate our vehicles in dry conditions.

“I’dnever had a fire start from a diesel ute in mylife.”

Ford Rangers sold between July 12, 2016and December 7, 2017 are affected by the recall.

The recall was made because of a defect that can cause vegetation to become stuck under the vehicle near the exhaust system, when it is driven over long grass.

Ford will write to owners of affected vehicles.

Wimmera Mail-Times

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PM bursts own ‘thought bubble’, ruling out republic vote in short term

Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek during a joint press conference with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten where they announced the shadow ministry, at Parliament House in Canberra on Saturday 23 July 2016. Photo: Alex EllinghausenThe Turnbull government has ruled out holding a plebiscite or postal survey before the next election on ns’ preferred model for becoming a Republic even if Queen Elizabeth’s reign ends during the current parliament.
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A spokesman for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed on Tuesday there would be no such vote during this parliamentary term even if there is a change of British monarch, despite Mr Turnbull saying the day before that an end to the Queen’s reign would be the obvious moment at which the republic issue becomes “live again”.

Mr Turnbull had on Monday suggested that a postal survey similar to that which decided the same-sex marriage debate might be used to guide how the nation evolves from a monarchy to a republic, including how a president is chosen.

The swift walk-back prompted acting Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek to dismiss Mr Turnbull’s remarks as a “thought bubble” and to suggest he was bowing to conservative elements in his party.

“It looks like nothing’s changed in 2018 – just more thought bubbles from Malcolm Turnbull that barely last 24 hours. Overruled by the right wing of his party again,” she said.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott, a diehard monarchist, told The n on Tuesday that Mr Turnbull seemed to be “jumping on the Keating bandwagon” by raising the plebiscite – referring to former prime minister Paul Keating’s attack on current political leaders for failing to keep the republic issue on the agenda.

Mr Turnbull said should the Queen’s reign end during his prime ministership and the republic debate be revived, “the first thing you would need to do is have an honest, open discussion about how a president would be elected”.

“It may be that a plebiscite, maybe even a postal survey, given the success of the marriage postal survey, could be one way to deal with that,” he said.

The British press seized on the comments, including The Mirror which declared Prince Charles’ future role as ‘s king has been thrown into doubt.

Ms Plibersek demanded Mr Turnbull clarify the government’s position on the republic issue.

“Let’s have a real discussion about this. What is the government actually proposing? What is the government’s position on this? There isn’t one, there’s a thought bubble,” she said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten in July pledged to give ns a vote on whether to become a republic during the first term of a future Labor government.

ns would be asked to answer “Yes” or “No” to the question: “Do you support an n republic with an n head of state?”

“Perhaps the government could join us in putting that simple question to the people,” Ms Plibersek said on Tuesday.

“Labor supports becoming a republic and we are happy to work with the government on whatever proposition they have for advancing this objective.”

Labor is yet to determine if a postal survey is the best way to test public views on the issue.

Under Labor’s plan, if ns voted for a republic then work would be done to decide on the best model.

Mr Turnbull said if a postal survey or plebiscite were to be held, voters should be asked whether an n president would be chosen by Parliament or directly elected by the people.

Ms Plibersek questioned why voters would be asked about the best model for appointing an n head of state without first determining if there was majority support for a republic.

Mr Turnbull’s comments came in response to criticism by former Prime Minister Paul Keating who questioned the commitment of the Prime Minister, ‘s most prominent republican, of transitioning to an n head of state.

n Republic Movement chair Peter FitzSimons said Mr Turnbull should “commit to a national vote on an n republic during the next Parliament”.

“The leaders on both sides of politics clearly want this to happen. Now it’s not a question of if, but how,” he said.

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Model of seaplane that killed five Britons in Sydney’s north ‘reliable’: investigator

The model of seaplane that crashed and killed six people on New Year’s Eve is generally reliable, according to a transport safety official leading the investigation.
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But investigators do not know if the plane had the stall warning system recommended by Canadian authorities after the same model crashed and killed another British family in 2015.

The Sydney Seaplanes aircraft plunged into Jerusalem Bay north of Sydney, killing British chief executive Richard Cousins, 58, his sons Edward, 23, and William, 25, his fiance Emma Bowden, 48, her daughter Heather, 11, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44.

The plane remains largely intact beneath 13 metres of water.

ATSB Executive Director of Transport Safety, Nat Nagy speaks on Tuesday afternoon. Photo: AAP

“The aircraft took off in a north-easterly direction, followed by a turn to the north-east, then a subsequent right hand turn prior to impact,” Nat Nagy, an executive director of the n Transport Safety Bureau, said.

The 1964 aircraft then sank and settled on the bottom of the river in an “inverted, slightly nosedown altitude”, Mr Nagy continued. He could not confirm that the plane nose-dived before hitting the water.

Authorities hoped to have recovered the plane by the end of the week. They may attempt to float it to the surface with internal airbags, pull it up with a crane, or both.

Three investigators from the ATSB are working to piece together the plane’s brief, final flight, looking at factors from pilot history to maintenance to components.

In 2015, a plane of the same kind, a DHC-2 Beaver, crashed in Quebec, Canada, killing six on board. The Canadian Transport Safety Bureau recommended in September that all such planes be fitted with mandatory stall warning systems.

Mr Nagy said he did not know if the Sydney Seaplanes aircraft had this system but “we haven’t seen any systemic issues with this aircraft”.

Asked whether the model was reliable, he said “an aircraft that’s been used this long in this many operations, I would say yes”.

The safety bureau is appealing for witnesses to come forward, especially those who have video footage of the flight.

Investigators will try to recover any footage taken on the flight from mobile phones or body-cameras, before finishing a preliminary report within a month.

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Alison Blake was 64 when she took her own life following pelvic mesh surgery complications

SENATOR Derryn Hinch has backed calls by consumer health groups for a total ban on pelvic mesh devices in after a grim prediction following the suicide of a Queensland mesh victim.
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“This suicide is the one we know about. There will be others,” Senator Hinch said after hearing sometimes shocking evidence from women mesh victims in 2017 at a Senate inquiry he campaigned to establish. A final report will be made public in February.

“There must be 15,000-20,000 n women affected by the mesh scandal and to see those women leaning on the walls, crouching on floors, unable to sit and in obvious pain at the inquiry hearings, was truly shocking,” he said.

“What we heard at the Senate inquiry I think is just the tip of the iceberg. I think all mesh should be banned. It was hearing from women about the desperate situations they’ve been left in that hit me, about how seriousit all is.

“Women have been exploited, they’ve been abused.Doctors have profited by this. They’ve made money out of it and I think it’s a bloody disgrace.

“If this was a male problem, if this was something to do with the penis or prostate cancer, it would have been fixed 15 years ago.”

Read more: Doctor left ‘aghast’ by sex recommendations for women

Senator Hinch said authorities including n medical device regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, would be pursued after the Senate inquiry final report.

“I’ve still got my powder dry on the TGA but what it did wasapprovevarious meshes because they were sort of just like the ones that had already been approved, without requiring evidence of safety. That’s nowayto run a medical watchdog authority,” Senator Hinch said.

Primary school teacher Alison Blake, 64,was implanted with a prolapse mesh device in October, 2013 and suffered severe and immediate complications including disabling pain. Asuccession of further surgical procedures to remove the mesh and deal with the complications was unsuccessful.

In a final letter to her only childin June, 2015, Mrs Blake wrote: “I cannot bear the thought of leaving you but the emotional torment and physical pain I’m going through are just too much.”

“I simply cannot bear to be lying on a couch for months on end and to have to rely on catheters, enemas, Temazepam, pain killers and be a burden to my family and friends.”

She died on June 26, 2015. Her daughter, Leesa Tolhurst, said her mother gave up hope after a final visit to a doctor she thought would be able to offer her some relief.

“She’d gone to the doctor hoping that perhaps something could be done. She was hysterical when she came here and said there was nothing left. I just tried to comfort her. I remember her as she drove away from my house, there was just a look in her eyes,”Mrs Tolhurst said.

Senator Hinch criticised the response of health departments across the country to the desperate situation many women are in because of mesh surgery.

He supported women who have been pushing for an American doctor who has completely removed hundreds of different pelvic meshes to be sponsored to , after many women were advised by n doctors that their meshes could not be removed.

“Women want full mesh removal. They don’t want partial removal which is what n doctors seem to be offering. I back the women 1000 per cent. I want to try to get him out here now,” Senator Hinch said.

Suffer in Silence is a Newcastle Herald investigation spearheaded by journalist Joanne McCarthy read more »

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