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Rugby league at risk due to ‘soft kids’

28/07/2018 | 南京夜网梧桐 | Permalink

LONE RIDER: Group 4 boss Mick Schmiedel is known for calling it how he sees it, and has done so again – taking ‘lazy’ parents and ‘soft’ kids to task.Plain-talking Group 4 president Mick Schmiedel has bemoaned the dramatic drop in junior league players graduating to the senior ranks in the region –and has laid the blame on “lazy” parents and “soft” children.
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With the league heartland in danger of becoming awasteland in the under-16 and under-18 ranks, the former long-standing player, who is aveteran administrator and coach, said parentsneeded to get “off the couch” and get their kids involved in league.

“I put the blame, and they won’t like this, squarely at mums and dads,” he said.

“I think a lot of mums and dads have just got too lazy now to take their kids to training or go down to the footy to watch.


— Mick Schmiedel (@Mickysch68) June 13, 2017

“They’drather sit at home or … God knows what they’re doing.”

Schmiedel, who coaches Collegian Warriors’ first grade and under-13 sides, also unloaded of kids –telling them to harden up.

He said years ago if a player“got a spray”from the coach he“took it on the chin”.

“Now (it’s), ‘I’m not copping that. I’m going to another sport. I don’t deserve that’,” he said.

CONCERN: Leading league figures say the lack of junior players entering the senior ranks is hurting the region’s premier competition, First Division.

“Well, you probably did deserve it. You’ve been a little sh**at training, you weren’t doing what you were told, deal with it … And that’s the problem we’ve got.

“Personally, I think we’ve become such a cotton wool society that we’ve got to be so careful of people’s feelings that we don’t want to upset them.

“Hang on. Little Johnny has been a sh**of a kid, so I told him to pull his head in or he’s doing laps. Andhe goes home crying because the coach was nasty.”

Schmiedelsaid the situation was so dire there were only three under-16 sides and four under-18 sides this season.

“So that tells you there’s not a lot (of players) coming through,” he said. “I think there’s only four (under) 15 sides at the moment.”

He added: “The thing with sport in general is we’re competing in a market that everyone wants, and you’ve got rugby union and you’ve got AFL going strong and soccer going strong, basketball’s strong.

“So we’re all trying to dip into the same player pool … which makes it difficult.”

Northern Daily Leader

The politics at play in our changing city

28/07/2018 | 南京夜网梧桐 | Permalink

AT THE height of its influence, Renew Newcastle’s founder Marcus Westbury was fond of retelling an old joke.
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Newcastle, it seemed, was always on the verge of something. A large-scale development was just around the corner. Three to five years away.

The joke, of course, was that most of the action never really seemed to eventuate, and in the meantime it wasorganisations like Renew fostering small-scale development that helped beginNewcastle’s revitalisation.

That word –revitalisation –has since been adopted by the NSW governmentas its catch-cry in Newcastle.

Indeed it’s no longer UrbanGrowth or the Hunter Development Corporation guiding state investment in the city, it’s Revitalising Newcastle, an amalgam of various state government departments.

The state government, through Revitalising Newcastle, claims credit for bringing that elusive large-scale development to the city.

The narrative is that it has beenthe government’s half-a-billion dollar investment in Newcastle, mostly spent on the 2.7 kilometrelight rail project, that has helped bring activity into the city.

A springboard launchingthe $1.6 billion in development busily changing Newcastle’s skyline.

But if the NSW government wants to bask in our success, it must also accept the heat when things aren’t as positive.

Yet in recent excursions into the city’s politics, two Berejiklian government ministers have failed in this regard.

First it was theTransport Minister Andrew Constance, who attempted to shift attention fromhis own delay incominggood on a promise to produce a business case for the light rail extension with anattack on the Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes.

And now it’s the Arts Minister Don Harwin, who raised hope for funding to expandthe Newcastle Art Gallery, and now – having failed to deliver any money –is putting theblame on the council.

Say what you will about the council –and it is not without blame, because it has had years to come up with fundsfor theexpansion –but the light rail business case and the gallery extension are exampleswhere the state government has prioritised massive spending in Sydney above more modest projects in Newcastle.

Nothing like a looming election to bring out the blame shifting and party politics.

Issue: 38, 527

Five highlights in your travel week23 June

28/07/2018 | 南京夜网梧桐 | Permalink

The top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge … climbers greeted by live music.Twilight climbs on all weekends in July and August will see four local musical artists serenade climbers at the summit of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
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After a bucket-list journey ascending the iconic bridge to a vantage point 134 metres above the harbour, climbers will be greeted by a series of musicians, comprised of three duos and one singer-songwriter, waiting at the top with acoustic instruments safely attached and in hand.

There they will perform for each group as they climb the final stairs to the summit, in the genres of art folk, soulful reggae and Americana-inspired folk music.

This musical experience is included in the standard price of the ticket.

Phone (02) 8274 7777 or visit www.bridgeclimb南京夜网

Brisbane’s Emporium Hotel … pampering mothers-to-be.

Brisbane’s Emporium Hotel has launched a new babymoon package, offering a special pampering experience for mums-to-be.

Defined as a romantic getaway or planned period of calm for expectant parents, the babymoon allows a restful getaway before baby arrives.

The Emporium’s package includes a 24-hour movie package, ice-cream and popcorn, a mum-and-bub gift pack including a signature plush zebra toy, valet parking, late checkout and a 10 per cent discount voucher at the Cheeky Bambino family concept store in the Emporium precinct.

The babymoon package is priced at $150 on top of whatever room rate is chosen.

Phone 1300 833 611 or visit www.emporiumhotels南京夜网.au

Mantra Hotel at Sydney Airport … special opening rate.

The Mantra Hotel at Sydney Airport is offering a special introductory rate special of $159 per night in a studio king room for when it opens on July 19.

The rate is valid for stays to September 29 and includes 1GB of internet access daily, a welcome drink voucher and room upgrade, subject to availability.

The 136-room, nine-storey hotel is located close to T2 and T3 terminals and features 24-hour service, express check-out and internet kiosk.

The restaurant and bar will serve a provincial menu, featuring the regional NSW beef and sustainably sourced local seafood, served with local draught beer, wines and hand-crafted cocktails.

Phone 131 517 or visit www.mantra南京夜网.au

Metro Advance Apartments & Hotel … a great base for Darwin’s popular winter events.

Metro Advance Apartments & Hotel in the heart of Darwin is offering early-bird and longer-stay deals with up to 15 per cent off standard rates.

Darwin plays host to a wide range of sporting and cultural events during winter, including the Royal Darwin Show (21-23 July), Darwin Fringe Festival (July 11–23), Darwin Cup Carnival (July 8–August 7) and this year’s Darwin Festival (August 4–21), an 18-day calendar of activities featuring local and touring artists, outdoor concerts, workshops, theatre, dance music, comedy and cabaret, film and visual arts.

Metro Advance Apartments & Hotel is located in the city centre, close to Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, Darwin waterfront and Darwin Casino, and within walking distance of Darwin Mall and popular night spots.

The property offers serviced apartments, ranging from studios to three bedrooms. All apartments feature separate living and dining areas, fully equipped kitchen, private laundry facilities and balcony, plus complimentary high-speed wi-fi.

Phone 1800 004 321 or visit www.metrohotels南京夜网.au

Fingal Beach … people line up to make giant humpback.

Each year in Port Stephens, hundreds of people gather on the beach to make the shape of a giant humpback and celebrate the whale-watching season.

The creation of the mammoth mammal will take place at noon on Saturday, July 15, as the finale of the region’s winter Naturefest celebrations. The event will be held on Fingal Bay Beach with free registration available from 10am.

This year visitors can also take advantage of a special winter accommodation deal offered by Marty’s at Little Beach.

Groups of up to four people can stay at Marty’s at Little Beach — 10 minutes from Fingal Bay — in a two-bedroom apartment for $200 per night on the weekend, based on a minimum two-night stay.

Larger family apartments, suitable for up to six people, are available for $250 per night.

Phone bookings will secure a further discount on accommodation.

Nestled between the sheltered stretches of sand at Shoal Bay Beach and Little Beach, Marty’s offers studios and self-contained apartments with balconies, a heated swimming pool, free wi-fi and Foxtel, and an undercover poolside barbecue.

Phone 02 4984 9100 or visit www.martys.net.au. For general regional inquiries visit www.portstephens.org.au

Wallabies hang on to win against Italy

01/03/2019 | 南京夜网梧桐 | Permalink

Wallabies hang on to win against Italy Reece Hodge of the Wallabies celebrates with team mates after scoring a try during the International Test match between the Australian Wallabies and Italy at Suncorp Stadium. Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
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Reece Hodge of the Wallabies (R) celebrates with Joe Powell (L) afrter scoring a try during the International Test match between the Australian Wallabies and Italy at Suncorp Stadium. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Dane Haylett-Petty of the Wallabies is tackled during the International Test match between the Australian Wallabies and Italy. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Bernard Foley of the Wallabies celebrates with team mates after scoring a try. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Bernard Foley of the Wallabies scores a try. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Dane Haylett-Petty of the Wallabies is tackled during the International Test match between the Australian Wallabies and Italy. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Israel Folau celebrates scoring a try. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Israel Folau of the Wallabies scores try. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Tommaso Boni of Italy is tackled during the International Test match between the Australian Wallabies and Italy at Suncorp Stadium. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Israel Folau scores a try. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

TweetFacebook Photo gallery – see some action shots from the gameThere were plenty of nervous moments but the Wallabies held on for the win against Italy at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

In what has been described as a ‘scrappy win’ thehome side left it late to secure the40-27 victory over the Azzurri.

Italy dominated possession and field position for the first stanza but when Australia didfind its attacking form it was hard to stop, piling on three tries in the first 40 minutes.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was feeling the strain.

“Sometimes you’re going mad because … we create excellent play and then try and throw a cut out pass instead of just giving it to the guy next to them,” Cheika said.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika could be forgiven for feeling a little frustrated after his side’s scrappy win against Italy. He is pictured here watching his team warm up before the match. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Israel Folau made history by becoming the first ever Wallaby to score two or more tries in three consecutive Tests.

Toby Smith was sin-binned with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game andthe Wallabies, then up 28-27, were at real risk of being overrun by theItalian side.

There were a few more nervous moments as Italy threatened to take the lead but late tries to Bernard Foley and Reece Hodge allowed for the flattering scoreline.

The scare comes after last week’s dismal showing against Scotland with some describing the Wallabies as a mere shadow of the team they were at the World Cup.

State of the NationSunday, June 25, 2017

01/03/2019 | 南京夜网梧桐 | Permalink

Photo by Judith Conning. Today is ORRCA’s annual community whale census.Your news snapshot from across regional Australia and beyond:
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State of the nationNeed a national news snapshot first thing –well, we have you covered.

► NSW:A lonesailor watched his yacht burn and sink after a fire ripped through the vessel north of Port Macquarie yesterday. Fortunately he escaped any serious injury.

Photo: Marine Rescue Port Macquarie.

► VICTORIA: RyanMargetts was a peopleperson. Fiercely independent, a hard worker, a keen sportsman – and with a knack for inappropriate comments –but he was facing challenges few truly knew about.

He leaves behind his family and communities within his home town of Dimboola, his footy club at Pimpinio, his home in Horsham and friends all over the world asking why.

► TASMANIA:The Marakoopa Caves at Mole Creek were formed by water, and in 2016 water again torrented through the cave system, hurling rocks, dumping gravel and carving paths. After extensive repair works the caves were once again opened for tourists, but how much have they changed?

REFURBISHED: Senior cave guide Haydn Stedman in the newly refurbished Marakoopa Caves. Pictures: Scott Gelston

►QUEENSLAND: Thehotel that is home of one of the ”big Bundy” bottles is up for sale, along with four other iconic regional pubs that make up the portfolio of long-time hotelier Tony Prentice…read on.

The Sundowner Hotel, home of one of Queensland’s two ”big Bundy” bottles, is for sale. Photo: Supplied

National news►OnMonday, June 26, the littleboy who has captured the attention of a nation will have been missing without a trace for more than 1000 days.It also marks William Tyrrell’s sixth birthday.

William Tyrrell went missing from his grandmother’s Kendall home in 2014 when he was just three years old. He has not been seen since. The photo depicts an impression of what William might look like today.

►A woman who stepped on a grape in the Coles fresh produce section has slipped once and fallen twice – first to her knees and elbows and again, later in her attempt to sue the supermarket giant.

Fatma Abdul Razzak’s lawsuit failed on Thursday when the District Court ruled Coles had exercised reasonable care in cleaning its floors and had not breached its duty of care.

National weather radarInternational news►America’s allies should not be guided by President Donald Trump’s at-times erratic Twitter posts, according to former US General and CIA director DavidPetraeus…read on.

General David Petraeus has moved to reassure Australia and other allies about Donald Trump. Photo: Wayne Taylor.

Faces of Australia:Laura Ellison Kabira, Kabelo and Laura taking a quick nap break during their morning walk.

LAURA Ellison’s heart belongs to an animal most would find intimidating.

Laura knows there is a softer side to rhinoceros and she is sharing this with the world.

The former Forster resident has just spent the last three years living in South Africa as a veterinary nurse at The Rhino Orphanage.

Read her full story here.

Laura with Tshidi (2 months) during her treatment at Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital.

Will $100 improve the inactivity of our kids?

01/03/2019 | 南京夜网梧桐 | Permalink

ACTION-PACKED: Professor David Lubans of the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition says kids are doing more organised sport than ever. Picture: Max Mason-HubersWhen I heard news bulletins leading on a $100 active kids rebate as “the soul”of the state budget last week my ears pricked up immediately.
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According to a document written by the Australian Government’s Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2014–15, an estimated “one in fourchildren aged 5–17 were overweight or obese [Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2015]”and “the main factors influencing overweight and obesity are poor diet and inadequate physical activity”.

So hearing the state government had this issue on its radar was good news.

But talking to Professor David Lubans from the Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition at the University of Newcastle got me thinking was it in fact a good initiative.

Professor Lubans is well-known for his work developingnutrition and physical activity strategies forschool-aged children and teenagers.

The only reports I had heard since the budgetannouncement were glowing in praise for the budget initiative.

But Professor Lubans felt the rebate “was not well thought out” and would not make a “a lick of difference” to the growing problem of inactivity in children.

One Northern NSW sporting body applauded it, saying in a statement:“Parents of school aged children will benefit from the ‘ActiveKidsRebate’, a new $100rebatefor sporting and fitness related costs announced … by Treasurer Dominic Perrottet as part of the NSW Budget, with $207 million set aside over four years from 2017-2018 for every family with children in school from early next year”.

Professor Lubans acknowledged parents may appreciate the extra cash in their pockets each year but he did not see an overall impact on kids’ activity levels as a result, mainly because “kids do organised activity like they’ve never done before”.

“In terms of the contribution of organised sport to overall activity and participation rates, it’s quite small and if anything we’ve probably seen an increase, or at least a maintenance of participation in organised sport over time,” Professor Lubans said.

“That’s not where the change has been in activity rates in Australia and really around the world.

“It’s really more about active transportation and active play, that’sreally where we’ve seen kids are less active than they have been in previous generations.

“Most kids from middle and high income families do so much organised activity these days.”

I had to agree, just based on our own household and families we knew. We are not swimming in money but we prioritise sportfor ourkids because of the health and socialisation benefits.

Wereadily fork out $45 a week for swimming lessons,around $200 each to play footballand the same for cricket and surf lifesaving combined in summer.

Yes, we will be grateful for the extradollars in our pockets each year but that’s not going to encourage us or other families I know to get their kids more active because we are already well and truly committed to organised sport.

He suggested directing the funds elsewhere, such astowardslow-income families,after school programs, into schools ora program that gets parents outside kicking the ball with their kids.

“Let’s put it towards something that’s going to have a more sustainable and ongoing impact,” he said.

“Why not for every student, give the school $100 that has to be spent towards physical activity promotion, and the school has to be accountable for how they spend it.That could go towards supporting extra professional development for teachers or equipment.

“How could we better spend $100 to have maximum impact?”

It is great the state government is thinking about getting kids more active but I agree maybe those funds could have been used betterfor a more successful outcome.

PROVEN RESEARCH: Professor Davis Lubans has had loads of successful outcomes with projects that get school kids and adolescents more physically active. Picture: Fairfax Media

Exercise tip: Bird dog adds strengthIn the build-up to the Winery Running Festival on July 16, Physio&Pilates Co’s Felicity Dan has been offering some tips on good strength exercises for running. Her tip this week is “Bird dog”, which is good forstrengthening the deep abdominals, spinal extensors, gluteals and improving proprioception.

Bird dog is good for strengthening the deep abdominals, spinal extensors and gluteals.

“Stack your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips,” Dan says.“Find a neutral position through your pelvis and spine. Lift one of your legs and the opposite arm out away from your body without losing the neutral position in your spine. Repeat on other side.”

Upcoming fitness eventsRaffertys Coastal Run, July 8, Lake Macquarie:An 11km, 22km or 35km trail run through Catherine Hill Bay andthe Munmorah State Conservation Area.www.raffertyscoastalrun南京夜网.au.

Winery Running Festival, July 16, Hunter Valley:Offering 42.2km,21.1km, 10km,6km and 2km for kids.www.wineryrun南京夜网.

Variety Spin 4 Kids, August 4, Honeysuckle:A great opportunity to get a team of colleagues, friends of family together, or take on the challenge by yourself, and ride for six hours, raising funds for disadvantaged children in our area.www.variety.org.au/nsw/event/variety-spin-4-kids.

Renee Valentine is a writer, qualified personal trainer and mother of three. [email protected]南京夜网.au.

Smith still waiting for timely change in luck

01/03/2019 | 南京夜网梧桐 | Permalink

Trainer Ben Smith NICE START: Sound Proposition wins for trainer Kris Lees and jockey Rachel King on Saturday at Randwick. Picture: bradleyphotos南京夜网.au
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Newcastle trainer Ben Smith wasn’t exactly sure what went wrong with In Her Time’s start in the group 1 Tattersall’s Tiara (1350 metres) at Doomben on Saturday.

A few hours after the race, Smith was still not ready to watch the replay of his $2.70 favourite finishing a gallant third in the $500,000 event –the final group 1 of the season.

A quick look at the stewards report, though, said it all: “Slow to begin and then bumped by another runner shortly after the start. Raced wide throughout.”

In Her Time, a two-time group 2 winner, was all the rage with punters, despite drawing gate 13 of 16 for the Tiara,after her brave second in the Stradbroke Handicap two weeks earlier.

However, the poor start on Saturday meant the noted on-pace runner was forced to come five deep around the field.

Despite the obstacles, she fought on to finish a length third to Tycoon Tara.

She lost no admirers, especially from her small Broadmeadow stable.

“She wasn’t entitled to do what she done,” Smith said.

“But it just shows how tough she is.

Tycoon Tara proves too tough to catch in the final Group 1 of the season, the Sky Racing Tattersall’s Tiara at #Doomben! pic.twitter南京夜网/NxNu5dDTfX

— Sky Racing (@SkyRacingAU) June 24, 2017

“She was entitled to drop right out with the run she had but to her credit, she’s just so tough and she tries so hard. She’s an absolute pleasure to have in the stable.”

Although disappointed, Smith was already looking with anticipation to the group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) in October at Moonee Valley with In Her Time and hoping for better luck at the barrier draw.

“She’s proved she’s up to group 1 level, she deserves to be there, I just wish she could win one,” Smith said.

“She’s won three times at Canterbury, so the tight track [at Moonee Valley] won’t worry her. It will just be if she can handle the other way of going.

“But we’ll make sure we go there early enough to give her a few runs around the Valley before the race.”

Premier Newcastle Kris Lees’ Danish Twist was never in the Tattersall’s Tiara after a troubled trip behind runners. She finished 14thafter being severely checked in the straight but was cleared of serious injury.

Lees, though,could take consolation from the debut of Sound Proposition at Randwick.

The former New Zealander, 10thin the Doomben Cup behind Lees’ Sense Of Occasion, won with his ease for his new trainer.

It was part of a Randwick winning treble for boom apprentice Rachel King and a double for Newcastle trainers whenPaul Perry’s Salerno claimed the last race.

Woman gets $7000 but fails in bid to sue Coles over grape slip and fall

01/03/2019 | 南京夜网梧桐 | Permalink

A woman who stepped on a grape in the Coles fresh produce section has slipped once and fallen twice – first to her knees and elbows and againlater in her attempt to sue the supermarket giant.
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Fatma Abdul Razzak’s lawsuit failed on Thursday when the District Court ruled Coles had exercised reasonable care in cleaning its floors and had not breached its duty of care.

Judge David Russell ordered Coles to pay Mrs Razzak $7728 in damages, but this will be dwarfed by the amount she will have to pay to cover the supermarket’s legal bill after her action failed.

Ms Razzak was shopping in the fruit and vegetable aisle at Coles Hurstville on a Saturday morning in April 2015 when she passed a staff member unstacking grapes onto a table.

Suddenly her feet lost grip, her right foot went backwards and she plunged forward onto her knees and elbows.

Rising to her feet, she detected squashed grapes on the floor.

Ms Razzak sued Coles for compensation in the NSW District Court, alleging injuries to her neck and lower back, claiming negligence and seeking damages of at least $35,000.

Her claim was far short of the $580,299 awarded to Kathryn Strong in 2012, who suffered a serious spinal injury after she slipped on a greasychip in Woolworths.

The High Court ruled in that case that reasonable care would require the supermarket to check the floors at intervals not longer than 20 minutes.

Ms Razzak’s legal team tendered evidence thatshowed there had been 16 slips or falls in the 12 months leading up to the accident, including three that involved grapes, one a cherry pip and another when a customer slipped the residue from a bean skin.

But Judge Russell found the grape could not have been on the floor longer than 10 minutes, with four staff spot-checking the floor every seven to 20 minutes,and it was not realistic to expect every piece of vegetable matter which fell to the floor be picked up instantly.

In spite of efforts by staff to contain spills with mats, checks and cleaning, organic matter still ended up on the floor and customers did occasionally trip, he found.

“Coles is not bound to ensure the absolute safety of entrants to its stores,” he said.

“It must take reasonable care.

“Coles could not have been expected to ensure safety by, for example, having several staff in every aisle doing nothing but watching for dropped vegetable matter, or by allocating a staff member to ‘shadow’every customer as they walked around the store.”

Mrs Razzak had a lengthy history of pain and told the court she always told doctors about her problems if she was worried about something.

But her medical records showed she did not complain about neck pain until 10 weeks after the incident, nor about back pain until four months later, although she had visited her doctor immediately after the incident and numerous times since regarding her knees and elbow.

She was awarded $978 for past medical expenses, $750 for future analgesics and physiotherapy and $6000 for non-economic loss associated with injuries.

But Judge Russell ordered in favour of Coles and ordered her to pay its costs.

The Sydney Morning Herald

I’m not just OK about not having kids – I’m delighted about it

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Children: thanks, but no thanks. Photo: Steven SiewertI am not someone who holds back coming forward with an opinion, but even I have limits. And until this week, that has been daring to say something anti-motherhood, to admit that not only am I OK with not having kids, I’m actually delighted.
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You see, to do so is to break a big sisterly taboo, to pour scorn on what is supposedly a woman’s greatest blessing, to deny the very laws of nature and the portrayals of fulfilment fed to us from birth. Women with kids, I rightly feared, would be offended. Or, even more common, would believe I am in denial of my own unfulfilled yearnings. That I am actually jealous. But here’s the rub, I’m just not.

Sure, at one stage when I was deeply in love I believed I could do it, that a child would only add to our happiness. But thankfully, it didn’t happen. Because that relationship was short-lived and today I would be tied to someone I no longer respect for life.

And the fact is that even in this century, I still believed that motherhood would impede on other goals I was certain I wanted – a career, travel, independence, spontaneity and freedom. I saw my decision as one or the others. Compromise was inevitable. Others may disagree but I say look at the lack of accessible childcare, wage inequity and the fact women are still expected to do the majority of housework and child rearing. It was risk I just couldn’t take.

And so, I have missed the infinite joy of raising a person of my creation, of experiencing the incredible love mothers cite and having an indisputable raison d’etre. But again, I’m OK with that. You don’t miss it of you haven’t had it and so, in my view, pining for something imagined is a waste of time and energy that only stops you seeing and enjoying what you do.

The reason I am sharing this today is that an invisible wall seemed to crumble this week and allowed honesty to shine through. Because at last, women who do have kids but regret the decision have been given an outlet to admit it. Dilvin Yasa knocked the first brick out with her article The women who regret becoming mothers and from there, real women took out their social media sledgehammers and allowed a light to be shone on their darkness.

Yes, it has come with judgment from others who disagree, who believe these women are ungrateful when others so desperately want children but can’t have them, but that was always going to be the case. But from reading feedback this week on the subject, I could almost hear the relief in those who confessed they would have made a different decision should they be able to turn back time. What’s more, the compassion and liberation that comes from knowing others feel the same way.

My mother was actually a trailblazer in this regard. I recall her admitting at a dinner party one night that if she had known better or felt she had a choice, she would never have had my brother and I. She confessed she didn’t feel she was a good mother and would compare herself to other women who seemingly only relished the role. She said she missed her career and the friends that came with it. And, when moved away from the city and those she loved to a more appropriate “family” home in the suburbs, she was overwhelmed by abject loneliness and isolation. This underlying resentment she credits as the start of the ugly unravelling of her marriage.

Not my cup of tea.

But for Mum there was no parting of the clouds and overwhelming sense of purpose. For her, raising kids was a chore and an endless one at that. In her day, she says she never saw kids as a choice, just something you did once hitched. There was no weighing up your options – there was only one if you were fertile. And so she went with the flow.

Mum never said she didn’t love us kids – she did and we both knew it intrinsically – she just didn’t get the supposed magic of motherhood as extolled by others. She claims other mothers she tried to bond with tended to look down on her lack of maternal instincts, shattering her self-esteem in the process. And, when her marriage turned violent, she saw no choice but to leave it and us behind, something she felt immense guilt about the rest of her life.

Still, I respected where she was coming from. Because as I grew to face the reality of what my life would be like with kids, I realised I am my mother’s child and I feared I would be the same, that motherhood wouldn’t come naturally to me and that I would resent a decision I couldn’t turn back.

Today I adore my godchildren and embrace every opportunity I can to give their mothers some relief by looking after them. I also listen when these women tell me they are “fed up”, “need a break” and “some me time”. Because no matter what decision a woman makes regarding children, she should be allowed to regret it even temporarily, to miss their old lives and to wonder wistfully what their futures may have held had they not chosen to procreate.

None of us are perfect and none of us are without dreams. Being a mother doesn’t make you a martyr. It just makes you a woman with kids and the joys and disappointments that come with them. Not every woman is the same and that is to be celebrated not criticised. So, as women, let’s stop judging and try supporting each other’s decisions and circumstances instead. And that goes for those of us who have chosen not to have children, too.

The Age

Fossils, floods and secrets: inside the Marakoopa CavesPhotos

31/01/2019 | 南京夜网梧桐 | Permalink

REFURBISHED: Senior cave guide Haydn Stedman in the newly refurbished Marakoopa Caves. Pictures: Scott GelstonThe Marakoopa Caves at Mole Creek were formed by water, and in 2016 water again torrented through the cave system, hurling rocks, dumping gravel and carving paths.
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Looking up to the roof of the caves you can see rocks, some as large as a shoebox, stuck to the ceiling by calcite–evidence of previous floods that have filled the cavernous spaces.

In June 2016, 400 millimetres of rain fell on the Western Tiers, directly above the Mole Creek cave system, falling on two catchment systems that feed into the caves.

After extensive repair works the caves were once again opened for tourists, but how much had they changed?

Fossils, floods and secrets: inside the Marakoopa Caves | Photos TweetFacebook Marakoopa CavesPictures: Scott GelstonThe power of the water that coursed through the caves moved tonnes of gravel, boulders and destroyed infrastructure in the tourist attraction, which following the floods remained closed until December.

“There was a heavy influx of water into both of those catchments,what that did was obviously dislodge a lot of old alluvial gravels that must have been in the upper sections of the cave …and basically deposited it lower down in the caves,” senior cave guide Haydn Stedman said.

“About 80 tonnes worth of gravel became choke points which redirected the stream, which caused undermining of infrastructure like pathways et cetera, the electrical system was submerged and compromised, we had boulders [a metre across] bouncing around inside the cave, which is pretty awesome when you consider the power of water.”

The floods seemed to have little impact on the eight-legged inhabitants of the caves, who were able to get up away from the water.

But, Mr Stedman adds, this is not unusual in the history of the caves, which were formed by water dissolving the limestone rock they are made from, gradually opening up new caverns and spaces.

“You think of caves as something that don’t change over millennia, but there are certain events that cause quite a lot of changes,” Mr Stedman said.

“Of the significant areas of damage [in the 2016 floods] was an old sediment bank that we’ve had dated at about 40,000 years worth of sediment.”

Large dolerite stones and boulders are left behind as evidence of previous floodsin the caves.

“Dolerite starts at nearly 500 metres above us, so that’s come down the mountainside, tumbled through the cave and somehow here it is,” Mr Stedman said.

Along with the destruction water can cause, there are also the secrets it can reveal.

This wall is a tessellation of fossils that date back to the Ordovician period, about 500 million years ago.

“[After the flood]we found lots of interesting fossilised things in rocks as we were clearing,” Mr Stedman said.

“You’d clear out the dolerites and the sandstones, which have come from higher up, and you’d get to bits of limestone and every second rock we picked up, ‘Oh that’s interesting, there’s a cool fossil’.

“It dates back nearly 500 million years, so we had a paleontologist tell us that the oceans during theOrdovician [Period]were basically full of invertebrate fossils, so it’s the age of the trilobite, although unfortunately we don’t have those.”

Most of the fossils found were primitive sponge-like creatures, and some small shells.

In a wall just below the“cathedral” cave the fossils remain, like a tessellated pattern of textures and shapes.

When Mr Stedman returned to the caves following the 2016 floods, the enormity of the repair challenges ahead was immediately evident.

“We took, Ithink, three days to clear the doorway originally, we got into the cave because the force of the water had undermined and blown out a retaining wall that had been built there and we crawled in via a puddle,” he said.

“There was half a metre of gravel behind the door, and the door opened inward so there was no way you were going to force your way in.”

This drain is where access was originally gained to the caves following the floods, which left half a metre of gravel on each side of the door.

The electrical system needed to be entirely replaced, and the opportunity was taken to rethink and re-wire for a more user-friendly experience.

“Things have changed a lot in the last 40 years since the last incarnation of lights,” Mr Stedman said.

“[It was] set up for the interpretation of the time, which was more on the novelty aspect of the caves .. whereas our interpretation nowadays tends to be more abou the environment, the geology and how things react.”

More than $1 million was spent on the site, with 80 tonnes of gravel removed with shovel and wheelbarrow and hundreds of metres of lighting cable disappearing into the caves.

The caves are once again open as a key tourist draw to the area, attracting tens of thousands of visitors each year.

There is a long history of tourism to the caves, people used to visit in horse and buggy more than 100 years ago.

“There used to be major excursions as early as the late 1800s…it’s incredible when you think about how intrepid tourists were 100 years ago compared to today,” Mr Stedman said.

The Examiner

‘Follow the money and follow the troops, don’t follow the tweets’: former CIA director reassures on Trump

31/01/2019 | 南京夜网梧桐 | Permalink

America’s allies should not be guided by President Donald Trump’s at-times erratic Twitter posts, according to former US General and CIA director DavidPetraeus.
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In a message of reassurance,GeneralPetraeussuggested people should”follow the money and follow the troops, don’t follow the tweets”.

General David Petraeus has moved to reassure Australia and other allies about Donald Trump. Photo: Wayne Taylor

“The overall way to characterise American foreign policy is more continuity than change.”

In a 45-minute Q&A session as the key note speaker at the Liberal Council meeting on Friday night, he also encouraged Australia and its allies to stand up to China in the South China Sea andconductfreedom of navigationexercises.

The former CIA Director oversaw the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is one of the most respected military leaders of his generation, though he was forced toresignin 2012 from his position as chief spybecause of an extramarital affair.

General Petraeus also suggested Australia may have to take the lead in combating Islamic State in the Philippines. Fairfax Media revealed on Friday that RAAF spy planes are set to join the fight against Islamic State in that country.

The general described MalcolmTurnbullas a “war-time prime minister” andsaid he would have to grapple with when, and to what extent, Australia should intervene in regional disputes.

“There will be some [conflicts], like in the Philippines for example, where Australia will either lead or play a very significant or Mali, where the French took the lead, but you will still even their see very significant contributions from the United States.”

He predicted “at least a generational struggle” against radical Islam, suggested the West would need to get used to “lone wolf” attacks as have in Melbourne, London, Paris and beyond and flagged the danger of a “virtual caliphate”, and dispersed Islamic radicals around the world, once the Islamic State was defeated in Syria and Iraq.

“You can eliminate all the ground vestiges of this [Islamic State], and there is still going to be the internet.”

Australia and its regional allies needed to be firm with China, which has built and then militarisedartificial islands in the South China Sea within a so-called nine dash line area, General Petraeus said.

He called on Australia to follow the United States’ example and conduct a so-called freedom of navigation (FONOP) naval exercise within the 12-nautical-mile zone around the islands claimed by China.

“We don’t have to have brass bands and fanfare, but it should be done… and if it can be done as a coalition, it says much more,” he said.

Freedom of navigation exercises are “hugely important..we have to be firm.”

“The nine dash line is an outrageous assertion [of Chinese sovereignty over the South China Sea] that is completely withoutfoundation in international law, as we found when the Philippines tooktheircase to theworld court and the case was decided in their favour.”

He also suggested the Obama administration had made promises to sail or fly anywhere within the contested area but missed key opportunities to stand up to China.

“There were opportunitieswhen those islands were first being constructed where we could have said ok, we will help the Philippines build theirs [islands], we will help Vietnam, and Malaysia wants to get in to the act.”

Those three countries are among the nations contesting China’s claim to sovereignty.

The general, who was at one point in the running for the jobs of Secretary of State and National Security Adviser in the Trump administration, critiqued the President on four key policy areas: pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, building a border wall between Mexico and the United States, and pulling out the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

The United States would likely meet its Paris emissions reduction targets regardless, General Petraeus said, but pulling out of the agreement sent the wrong message to international partners.

On the border wall, he pointed out that net flow of migrants between the two nations was currently towards Mexico.

The fourth issue was the continued “ambivalence about the US leading the rules-based international order”.

“I do believe that the UnitedStates has tocontinue to exercise its leadership…we have a pragmatic president, heis someone who showed he will do what is necessary to get elected, and now he will do what he needs to do to be successful”.​

He outlined five lessons to be learned from the past 15 years in the Middle East in the fight against Islamic extremism.

1. Ungoverned spaces will be exploited by Islamic extremists. 2. “Las Vegas rules do not apply”- what happens in radicalised pockets of the world does not stay there, and violence and refugees are exported around the world. 3. In most cases, the US is going to have to lead, but partner with regional allies. 4. Acomprehensive approach is needed – Islamic state andAl Qaeda can’t just be defeated by drones strikes or special forces. 5. “We are engaged in a generational struggle.”

The Age

How a trip to Jacqui Lambie’s sons’ school helped save Gonski

31/01/2019 | 南京夜网梧桐 | Permalink

Visit St Brendan-Shaw College in Devonport and you’ll find a chapel overlooking the sea, a cricket fieldand couple of asphalt tennis courts.
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The modern facilities are a step up from the local public high school, but it’s not King’s School or Melbourne Grammar. There’s no swimming pool or equestrian centre. Most of the students are working and middle-class kids whose families want them to get a good Catholic education.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham and Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie discuss the detail in the Senate. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

For Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie, it will always be a special place.

As she explained in an emotional speech to the Senate in March, Lambie found herself at the “bottom of the crap pile” when she was medically discharged from the army in 2000. A single mum on the disability support pension, Lambie couldn’t afford the fees, but St Brendan-Shaw allowed her sons to attend free of charge for three years.

It’s something she’s still grateful for.

Simon Birmingham with Senator Pauline Hanson in the Senate on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

So when Education Minister Simon Birmingham was courting Lambie to support his Gonski 2.0 school funding model, she knew where to take him. With a Senate vote looming, Birmingham flew to Tasmania this month and spent half a day with Lambie at St Brendan-Shaw talking education policy.

It was to prove a trip worth making.

Wedded to the “Gonski1.0″model it devised when in office, Labor was implacably opposed to the government’s changes. Pure politics made a deal with the Greens look shaky. Small-government senators DavidLeyonhjelm​and CoryBernardi​wouldn’t vote for extra spending on schools.

The government has sealed a deal on school funding thanks in part to the support of the Nick Xenophon Team. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

This meant Birmingham would have to win over the other 10 members of the Senate crossbench – including Lambie. There was no room for error and everything was on the line. The government would head into the six-week winter parliamentary break on a euphoric high or a crushing low.

Securing Lambie’s vote wouldn’t be easy. With a short fuse and an aversion to spending restraint, she almost never votes with the government. An analysis conducted earlier this year shows she has sided with the Coalition just 30 per cent of the time on substantive votes in this Parliament.

Senator Chris Back and Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham during debate on the Australian Education Amendment Bill. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Lambie was also worried about Catholic schools. Under Birmingham’s new model, funding for Catholic schools would keep growing but less generously than under the current legislation. With reduced funding, Lambie wondered, would schools like St Brendan-Shaw still be able to help out struggling families?

Birmingham left Tasmania hopeful, but not assured. Lambie hadn’t committed to voting yes, neither had she ruled it out. He was still in the game.

Senator Derryn Hinch during debate on the Australian Education Amendment Bill in the Senate on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The Coalition’s about-faceSix weeks earlier, analert had gone out from the Prime Minister’s office. The PM was to holda surprise press conference with Birmingham in Sydney. As journalists arrived,they noticed there were three lecterns. Who else, they wondered, would appear?

When Turnbull and Birmingham strode out alongside David Gonski, Australia’s school funding debate turned on its head.

The respected businessman had conducted the landmark review into school funding for Julia Gillard in 2011. His name had become shorthand for Labor’s big-spending funding deals with the states.Now here he was, standing alongside a Liberal PM and education minister endorsing their policies.

It was a stunning moment that had been months in the making. Liberal insiders still can’t believe they pulled it off without it leaking.

When he became education minister in 2015, Birmingham knew he faced a wicked political and policy dilemma. He would never get Tony Abbott’s 2014 policy, whichwould reduce school funding by $30 billion over a decade, through the Senate.But he would never be given enough money to match Labor’s school funding promises.

So he had to find a way through. Soon after taking the job, with the help of then-NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli, he reached out to Gonski for advice. And he continued to consult with him over coming months as he developed his plan for a new school-funding model.

Birmingham believed he could get Gonski’s approval for a plan that delivered less funding than Labor but distributed it in a fairer way.

Turnbull, friends with Gonski since childhood, had even bigger ideas. He believed he could convince the media-shy businessman to go public in a way that could capture people’s attention.

“Without his endorsement, this would never have got off the ground,” a senior Liberal source says. “He gave us a feather to fly with.”

At the press conference, Turnbull boldly declared he would “bring the school funding wars” to an end with his $18.6 billion spending plan.

He was far too optimistic.

The Catholic education sector quickly unleashed a fierce campaign against the government, with warnings of parish schools closing and fees soaring by $5000 a year.

Birmingham privately admits he didn’t see the backlash coming. He knew the Catholics wouldn’t be happy to lose their prized funding arrangements, but the ferocity of their response caught him by surprise.

In the days after the announcement, Coalition MPs’ inboxes soon started filling with emails from concerned Catholic parents. By providing his colleagues with school-by-school figures for their electorates that showedfunding going up, Birmingham headed off a party room revolt. A landmine, though, was threatening to explode.

After eight years in Parliament, low-profile WA Liberal senator Chris Back announced his retirement last week. A former member of the WA Catholic Education Commission, Back had told Birmingham privately he couldn’t vote for the legislation as it stood. On Monday he went public with a threat to cross the floor.

All Birmingham’s work to sway the crossbench, including agreeing to $5 billion in extra spending,was at risk of coming to nothing.

In the end, the promise of a one-year reprieve before Catholic schools lost their cherished systemic funding agreements locked in Back’s vote.

It looked dangerously close to the “special deals” Birmingham had railed against but, at a cost of just $50 million, it was worth it. The concession also helped get Lambie, the 10th and final vote required, over the line. Thanking Birmingham for taking the time to visit her state, she reluctantly announced:”I am swayed by what he’s doing.”

And she held firm,despite the efforts of Catholic education lobbyists who camped outside her office on Thursday in a bid to change her mind.After squeaking through the Senate a few hours earlier, the amended bill passed through the House of Representatives at 2.01am on Friday.

The art of compromiseBrinkmanshipis vital for the Turnbullgovernment. Each of its major legislative wins – the Australian Building and Construction Commission, the company tax cuts and now school funding – has had to survive theturbulent guard of the Senate crossbench, with mixed results.

Recall, for instance, the watered-downABCCincluded a two-year transition period demanded by Victorian senatorDerrynHinchin exchange for his support. Months later, he backflipped, having undertaken a listening tour over the summer, and helped the government restore some of the commission’s teeth.

Hinchwas also at the centre of comical manoeuvring over the so-called backpacker tax, oscillatingbetween four different positions in four days, staging rambling press conferences in the centre of Parliament, before the government went around the crossbench and reached a deal with the Greens for a 15 per cent tax.

Despite the shambolic process, in each case the government has ended up getting pretty much what it wanted. It has had to compromise, certainly – most notably on its enterprise tax plan, where the Senate would only accept tax cuts for companies with turnover less than $50 million.

“Onany view of the world,the Senate has largely passed the government’sreforms with the corners rubbed off – and it was ever thus,” says John Daley, executive director of the Grattan Institute, who strongly backsthe revisedGonski2.0 package, and views the crossbench’s amendments as an improvement.

The national resourcing body to oversee school funding”makes a lot of sense”, Daley says,given the historical fights over school funding and bickering between the Commonwealth and the states. He also gives the shorter implementation time frame a tick. “Bringing the schools at the bottom up faster is a good thing,” he says.

More broadly, Daley arguesthis week’s success undermines the claim that governments’agendas are beinghamstrung by the Senate. That idea has been pushed by former prime minister Tony Abbott, who earlier this year warned the Senate had become “a house of rejection” rather than a house of review, and was delivering “gridlock, not government”.

And in a well-publicised speech in February, chairman and former Treasury boss Ken Henry lamented the state of politics, arguing it was mired in “dysfunction”, and fuelled by populism and tribal tensions within parties. While his criticism was chiefly directed at a failure to tackle big-picture economic and taxation reform, he also took aim at the “shambles” of climate change and energy policy.

Daley, also frustrated by the breakdown of climate policy in recent years, says the Turnbull government’s energy plans “by and large look pretty sensible”. This week the PM confirmed he would proceed with parts of Chief Scientist AlanFinkel’s​review, including controls on gas exports, and abolishing a merits review process by which transmission companies have gouged consumers for extra cash.

A proposed Clean Energy Target, however, remains more contentious, with members of the Coalition party room already publicly positioning against it. As the next cab off the rank, expect that issue to bubble away over the winter break and into the second half of the year.

In Daley’s view, the government’s steady, orderly pace to reform is working, even when subject to compromise.

“They haven’tpickedoff too much at once.They’re onlytrying to land threereally significant reforms at the moment,” he says, naming school funding, higher education and energy. “Andthey’re happy to sequence them. Oneof the things Ithinkwe have learnt – orre-learnt –is you cannot get too much through at once. You run out ofbandwidth. That’s certainly acriticismthat was levelled at the Rudd government.”

‘Something to talk about’Celebrating the Gonski win on Friday, abeaming, fist-pumping Malcolm Turnbull declared he had landed “the biggest reform in Commonwealth school funding ever”, and the school funding wars “should now be over”. He conceded the extra $5 billion in expenditure –$1.5 billion over the forward estimates –”wasn’t what we planned to do”, but acknowledged getting out the chequebook was often “what you need to do to get legislation passed”.

“The alternative is that you don’t get anything done,” Turnbull observed, taking the opportunity to once again note the government had exceeded the expectations of those who believed it was “in office but not in power”.

One government frontbencher with a trained political eye believes this week’s deal is a big win, though not necessarily a game-changer.”We had a legacy problem where we made a major mistake,” he says, namely the horror 2014 Abbott budget which defined the Coalition’s position on school funding as one of mammoth cuts.

Now, nervous marginal seat MPs can stride into schools in their electorates and put a dollar figure on the amount of new money theywill get under Turnbull. Even Abbott, who complained in party room meetings about the affordability of extra expenditure on schools, was worried about Catholic schools in his Broken Bay diocese losing out.

Unlike the construction watchdog or the company tax cuts, Gonski 2.0could be a barbecue stopper. “Education funding doesn’t matter to parents,schools do,” the frontbencher observes. “This is why the marginal seat members, even the Catholics, [are saying] they’re happy with this,because it gives them something to talk about.”

That doesn’t mean he believes Malcolm Turnbull will catch much of a break in the polling stakes.

“I don’t think think the polls will change. Any politician who is looking for an applauding electorate is in the wrong game,” he says. “Your achievements are your banked credibility for your next series of promises. And we have a much better story to tell than we did two months ago.”

Hawks still chasing runaway Panthers

31/01/2019 | 南京夜网梧桐 | Permalink

Cardiff Hawks coach Nathan Harkness is certain his side can bridge the gap further on unbeaten Black Diamond AFL leaders Terrigal-Avoca despitea 53-point loss atHylton Moore Oval on Saturday.
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Panther Corey Billins

Ryan Webster and Daniel Heuston had four goals each for the Panthers, who kicked six majors to the Hawks’ one in the first quarter to take control of the round 11 game from the outset. Terrigal-Avoca, who claimed the first encounter this year with Cardiff by 80 points, went on to win13.12(90) to5.7(37).

Cardiff were without Tom Quade, Jack Pratt, Cam Jones, Nick Kocon and leading goalkicker Aaron Wivell because of injury. Harkness said the Panthers “were just too good” on Saturday and were the team to beat, but he was confident the second-placed Hawks could challenge with all hands on deck.

“One hundredper cent we can,” Harkness said.“It’s just a matter of us getting there. Hopefully it’s swings and roundabouts come the end of the year.”

The Hawks were missing “three-quarters of their forward line” but Harkness said the Panthers were also understrength and his side needed to improve.

“Our skills were terrible, their pressure was awesome, they were ready to go and we just didn’t come for the game,” he said. “They are a really good, solid unit and with that many changes, it hasn’t helped us gel.

“They had a few out as well, but it’s not about outs. We just chopped the ball up every time we went forward and turned it over. It was terrible and probably one of the worst games we’ve played.”

Elsewhere, Nelson Bay beat Killarney Vale 18.6(114) to 6.6(42) at Dick Burwell Oval and Warners Bay lost 9.10(64) to 8.9(57) to Newcastle City at Feighan Oval.

Austin Clark, James Hart, Matthew Shortal, Peter Van Dam andCorey Billins each kicked one goal each for the Panthers, whileJosh Murphy had four for the Hawks.

Jayden Rymer booted five goals for Nelson Bay, who also hadMathew Dews (three), Todd Thornton, Luke Price andJye Clayden (two each)as multiple scorers.

Courtney Knight, Liam Dwyer andPatrick Gillingham had two majors each for Newcastle City.