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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.

Valentine keep fairytale premiership hopes alive

29/12/2018 | 南京夜网梧桐 | Permalink

Jalon Brown
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Chris Brown and Scott McGinley were at Valentine when the club were relegated after 2013, and they stuck with Phoenix through two seasons of second-tier football.

On Saturday, they scored as Valentine came from a goal down to beat Northern NSW National Premier League leaders Lambton Jaffas 2-1 and move a point behind them in second after 15 rounds.

The Jaffas went ahead in the 25thminute when Ryan Griffiths smashed home a penalty after Wilson Edwards deflected the ball into himself for a handball.

Valentine levelled in the 65thminute when Brown showed great skill to score with a volleyed, left-foot shot across his body off a Matt Paul corner. McGinley was then the hero in the 86thminute after Jalon Brown and Paul set him up for the winning strike.

Phoenix coach Darren Sills was extremely proud of his side’s determination after they conceded the unlucky goal and he was thrilled to see Brown and McGinley score.

“They were here when the club was in the state league and they toiled away in the second division, so this is important to them and you could see how much it meant to them, they were so happy,” Sills said.

Sills hoped the win was the kick Valentine needed to their premiership campaign after the 3-1 loss to Broadmeadow last week.

“This win still gives us a sniff of the minor premiership,” he said.“It would be a fairytale story for us and we’d love to do it.”

In the other game on Saturday,Charlestown beat the Newcastle Jets Youth 4-0 at Lisle Carr Oval.

Charlestown opened the scoring in the eighth minute when Josh Maguire and Daniel Bartlett combined to give Rene Ferguson space close to goal. Ferguson then sliced a shot between two defenders to score.

The Blues went up 2-0 in the 31stminute when Joel Steward ran onto a long ball and caught Jets Youth keeper Tristan Esquliant off his line with a lobbed shot from the corner of the 18-yard box.

Ferguson made it 3-0 in the 58thminute when he made the most of a failed clearance from Esquilant.

Maguire added the fourth in the 77thminute with his left footwhen unmarked at the far post.

On Sunday, Maitland are awayto Hamilton, Lake Macquarie host Broadmeadow and Adamstown travel to Weston.

Merewether not giving up on finals despite heavy loss to Wanderers

29/12/2018 | 南京夜网梧桐 | Permalink

Bill Coffey and Josh McCormack celebrate a Wanderers try on Saturday. Picture: Jonathan CarrollMEREWETHER Carlton coach Jode Roach believes his side will improve and the finals are still a goal despite a 54-12 loss to Wanderers in Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union on Saturday at No.2 Sportsground.
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Merewether not giving up on finals despite heavy loss to Wanderers TweetFacebook Wanderers v Merewether-CarltonJonathan Carroll imagesThe Greens were blown away in the second half after losing halfback Ed Clifton to the sin-bin and five-eighth Tom Smith for the match to concussion.

Wanderers overcame setbacks of their own in the first half to lead 12-9 at the break. Lock RhysDombkins and centre Callum McDonald were both given yellow cards but the Greens could only muster a nine-point lead, which the Two Blues soon bridged.

Bill Coffey, Tim Marsh and JoshMcCormack scored two tries each, while Dombkins and Dillon Rowney also crossed for the second-placed Wanderers.

The result left the Greens ninthon 15 points, 10shy of the top five, after nine rounds.

Roach, though, said his young side had not given up on finals football.

“We’ve still got aspirations of making the top five and I think we will continue to get better,” Roach said.

“Every week we’ve got a kid playing first grade for the first time.The halfback, inside centre, fullback, they are only 20 years old. I think at the backend, ourdepth will hopefully shine through a little bit.

“We’re just taking each week as it comes and we’ve got a pretty good feeling around the club.We’ve just been on the wrong side of the ledger a few times.”

Roach said his side “probably didn’t do enough” when the Wanderers were down players in the first half, then they were unable to adjust when losing their playmakers.

“We played some good footy in the first half, then we lost our five-eighth and our nine, and we lost some concentration, then they played some really good footy in the second half,” he said.

“We were in control and sticking to the game plan in the first half but then a little bit adversity cameand we didn’t adapt.”

Elsewhere,SireliBainivalu scored two tries and debutant Rowan Kelly one as leaders Hamilton defeated The Waratahs 29-19 at Waratah Oval.

Southern Beaches beat Maitland 37-17 atErnie Calland Field to leapfrog them into third place, Lake Macquarie defeated Singleton 36-11 atLone Pine Barracks and Nelson Bay routed University 57-12 at Bill Strong Oval.

Premier 1: Round 9: The Waratahs 19 (tries D Sherratt, C Hicks, con D Sherratt) def by Hamilton Hawks 29 (tries Sireli Bainivalu 2, R Kelly, S Sione, con P Kilmurray 3, pen P Kilmurray) Merewether Carlton 12 (pen S Rouse 4) def by Wanderers 54 (tries WL Coffey 2, TJ Marsh 2, JD McCormack 2, RR Dombkins, DR Rowney, con LM Simmons 7) Southern Beaches 37 (tries M Aliifaalogo, V Talaileva Iii, MC Delore, FJ Pauta, S Moss, AJ Delore, JW Vaka, con JW Vaka) def Maitland 17 (tries J Maloney, MA Stafford, con J Maloney 2, pen J Maloney) Singleton 11 (tries DJ Keys, pen RA Mason 2) def by Lake Macquarie 36 (tries W Fraser 2, B Lupematasila, M Tauhinu, BD Holliday, K Ng Lam, con BD Holliday 3) Nelson Bay 57 def University of Newcastle 12 (tries D LeRougetel, D Wells, con F Delli Carpini)

Pickers fightback goes south

29/12/2018 | 南京夜网梧桐 | Permalink

MAITLAND coach Trevor Ott lamented his young side’s inability to defend errors after they fell short of a miraculous comeback in a 36-30 loss to South Newcastle on Saturday at Coronation Oval.
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Dane Tilse hits it up for Maitland against South Newcastle at Coronation Oval on Saturday. Picture: Marina Neil

The last-placed Pickers, who lost 52-0 to Wests last week,were down28-6 at half-time against the defending Newcastle Rugby League premiers in round nine but fought back to lead30-28.

Star recruit Luke Dorn scored his second try next to the posts with 14 minutes to go to put Maitland ahead but a dropped ball andpenalty helped the Lions hit back.

Souths crossed again at the death to secure the win.

“We were pretty poor in the first half and our inability to defend errors really frustrated us,” Ott said.“We’ve got to be better than that. We had a bad scoreline last week we were disgusted with as a team and today we started OK, scoring the first points of the game, but after that we struggled.The second half we were a totally different football team and if it wasn’t for some of our own unforced errors at the death, we could have got away with it.”

Dane Tilse,Brenton Horwood and Joe Morris also scored for Maitland.Liam and Luke Higgins,Lachlan Walmsley, Bryce Donovan, Ofa Manufuoa and Ryan Glanville crossed for Souths.

At Cessnock Sportsground, the Goannas ledtop side Wests 10-4 at half-time but lost 26-12.

Joe Woodbury scored twice for Cessnock who went ahead 12-4 early in the second half.Chad Redman and Callan Richardson crossed to put Wests up 14-12 before a Mark Taufua offload put Ryan Walker away tomake it 20-12. Brad Tighe scored late to cap the win. Wests coach Matt Lantry saidPeter Mannion, who scored in the first half, had hisbest game of the season.

“The pressure Cessnock put on us with their defence and what they did with the footy was really good and we didn’t handle it very well,” Lantry said. “But good sides find a way to win.”

“It was ugly but we found a way.”

Lantry believed his side had heavy legs from playing in the mud last week and suffered from a disrupted preparation after the closure of Harker Oval.

Divorcee burnt down house so his ex-wife couldn’t get it, court hears

29/12/2018 | 南京夜网梧桐 | Permalink

Divorcee burnt down house so his ex-wife couldn’t get it, court hears Krste Kovacevski seizes a television reporter’s microphone before departing Wollongong courthouse on Friday. Main picture courtesy of 9 News Illawarra.
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NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT: With his home still smouldering, Krste Kovacevski retreats to his garage/granny flat and fields questions from curious neighbours, the morning after the fire. Picture: Angela Thompson

REFUGE: With his home still smouldering, Krste Kovacevski retreats to his garage/granny flat and fields questions from curious neighbours. Picture: Angela Thompson

Picture: supplied

Picture: supplied

Picture: supplied

TweetFacebookA man has been found guilty of burning down aConiston house sohis ex-wife wouldn’t get it in their divorce.

Krste Kovacevski claimed he still owned the Coniston home in the early hours of August 4 last year, as he poured fuelthrough its rooms, dropped a lit piece of paper, and retreated to his granny flat to watchit burn.

But on Friday a Wollongong magistrate ruled otherwise: Kovacevski destroyed the uninsured, owned-outright home after losing it in divorce proceedings.

Magistrate Mark Douglass found the home didn’tbelong to Kovacevski, and that he was well aware of this, having signed it over in the presence of his lawyer the day earlier.

“It was after that acknowledgement that the accused, with malice, sought to damage the property,” Magistrate Douglass said.

For the second time in as many months, Kovacevski clashed with television reporters as he departed Wollongong courthouse on Friday morning.

He managed to takea 9 News reporter’s microphone and threw it to the ground before departing.

TheMercuryunderstands the matter hasdistressed Kovacevski’s elderly ex-wife.

The pair separated 21 years ago, but only divorced in 2015.

Police found 75-year-old Kovacevski in thegranny flat of the Jutland Avenue. His lawyer had hours earlier lodged signedlegal documents on his behalf,transferring ownership of the home to his ex-wife, in line with terms set by the Federal Circuit Court in a July 22 decision.

Kovacevski was arrested after he admitted he had started the blaze.

When questioned by firefighters, he pointed to a folder of divorcepaperwork and said, “that’s where it started”.

At Wollongong Police station he explained he had been unable to sleep for the past four or five days.

He said he had become emotional and“nervous” afterreceiving a legal notice on August 3, giving him 40 hours tovacate his home.

“I got nowhere to go,” he told police.”So now I start packing … things in a car. My pressure went up.”

“Where I can take it and where I gonna stay?

“I was in the garage. I looked around. I see the kerosene,grab it and light it up. That was it.

“I losteverything so I’ve got nothing to worry [about].”

He told police hepoured kerosene through the hallway, outside the bathroom and in the loungeroom before setting a piece of paper alight and dropping it in the fuel.

The fire caused the roof of the house to cave in and threatened neighbouring properties, which were evacuated.The matter returns to court for sentencing on August 8.

Illawarra Mercury

The retirement racket

29/12/2018 | 南京夜网梧桐 | Permalink

Villages of the damned: Sold a dream then ripped offThe price of FreedomIts slick marketing promises a safe and sound place to live yet retirement village operator Aveo is making a fortune by ripping off Australians through complex contracts and eye-watering exit fees.Geoff Richards quietly closed the front door of his unit for the last time. The legal letters had been signed, non-disparagement clauses agreed, and the retirement village operator Aveo was about to have its day.
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Slowly walking down the path with his dog, Tosh, the crumpled 80-year-old glanced back one last time.

It was August 2016 and it was the day that Aveo won.

Richards had moved into the retirement village almost six years earlier in December 2010 with Harry Nash, his partner of 55 years. They were in their late 70s and had been seduced by the glossy brochures and promises of low maintenance that come with living in a retirement village.

Geoff Richards and Harry Nash on holiday.

But things started to unravel when Harrylost his battle with cancerin May 2014. Within weeks of burying him,Geoff received a letter from Aveotelling him he had no right to live in the village, despite being the sole beneficiary of Harry’s estate, including the unit.

“Imagine if a husband and wife,” Richards adds, “and one of those died and was the only name on the title. Would they throw out the other surviving partner?”

A joint Fairfax Media-Four Cornersinvestigation into the ASX-listed retirement village juggernaut Aveo can reveal that Richards’ eviction helped them achieve their overall stated business strategy to “turn over” or churn a certain number of residents a year for profit.

Fairfax Media-Four Cornershas spoken to current and former residents, their children, lawyers, former Aveo staff and lobby groups and has found some questionable business practices at Aveo, including safety issues, misleading marketing and advertising and property sales.

But the company’s biggest driver of profit – and behaviour – is exit fees.

With 89 retirement villages around the country, which house more than 13,000 retirees, Aveo is one of the biggest retirement village operators in the country. And it makes a lot of money churning residents out of their villages.

Retirement villages such as Aveo collect an exit fee when a resident dies or leaves. It is a fee unique to the retirement village industry. It is generally based on a percentage of the purchase price on a sliding basis over the number of years of occupancy.

The fee can be extremely lucrative for Aveo. In the company’s most recent Freedom Aged Care contracts, the exit fee charged by Aveo after just two years is 40 per cent of the value of the property. Some units are now selling for $600,000, which means that for each unit that changes hands every two years or so, Aveo pockets a cool $240,000.

It also means that the higher the churn or “turnover” of residents, the more exit fees the company collects.

The joint investigation has obtained a number of letters sent by Aveo to outgoing residents threatening legal action if they reveal any aspects of an offer, including any discussions, to anyone other than their lawyers. “If you disclose the confidential information for any other purpose, we may suffer loss and may have legal rights against you.” Buyback offers from Aveo also include such threats.

Geoff Richards at home with Tosh. Photo: Penny Stephens

Aveo is the most aggressive listed operator in the country, stinging residents with a menu of fees that eat up a lifetime of savings within just a few years.Aveo has a stated targetturnover of 10 to 12 per cent of residents each year. That is equivalent to about 1200 units a year, which is high by industry standards. It’s a numbers game.

If Aveo hits its target, and the average exit fee is assumed to be approximately $75,000 per unit, then Aveo would make $90 million in exit fees each year.

This will only increase after Aveo’s move to a new model that will lift unit prices and hike exit fees to 40 per cent after two years. Some of its older contracts have an exit fee of 20 per cent while others rise to a maximum of 33 per cent on a sliding scale over five to seven years.

Aveo declined to be interviewed for the story.

In a statement Aveo said it was “committed to enhancing the lives of older Australians by improving living choices”. It added that Aveo rates very highly on resident surveys.

In answers to a series of questions, Aveo denied it was more aggressive than other operators saying its exit terms were more favourable and substantial than available “from almost any other operator”.

It says it does not generate a profit from ongoing service fees and it does not churn residents.

In Geoff Richards’ case, Aveo relied on a clause in the contract that says if the “owner” dies, his/her successor loses the right to continue to reside in the village even if they are a de facto partner.

A letter sent to Richards from Aveosays a title search shows the proprietor of the unit was Harry Nash “and not yourself”. It says “sub clause 3 (i) of the agreement provides that a person other than the owner is not permitted to live in the unit without the express written consent of the manager … we have not given such consent so your occupancy has no standing under this agreement.”

He was initially toldhe could only stay in the place he owned if he sold it to himself, enabling Aveo to collect the exit fee, which was almost $100,000. But the agreement fell apart and Richards found himself looking for a new place to live outside the village.

Aveo says it tried to negotiate with Richards and that he was not a permanent resident and that it had asked Nash to put him on the title.

However, documents seen by Fairfax Media-Four Cornersprior to Richards’ settlement show that Richards was treasurer of the owners committee at Veronica Gardens and was in charge of the committee’s bank account. Other documents show Richards and Nash had held discussions with Aveo for Richards’ name to be put on the title, however Nash’s cancer worsened and their focus shifted to Nash’s health.

After Nash’s death, documents show that Aveo’s offer was withdrawn. Further, the documents show that before Nash’s death, Richards, Nash and another man were running a mail order business from a residential address. It was that address, according to Richards, that Aveo would later state that proved Richards was never a permanent resident.

The joint investigation has obtained numerous Aveo contracts,which include clausesthat some lawyers describe as complex and draconian, particularly when the unit is freehold. These include residents potentially losing the right to reside in the village if they become bankrupt, if they vacate their unit for more than two months without Aveo’s permission, if they mortgage their unit, or put a tenant in or allow somebody to stay in the resident’s unit without permission.

A LOST CAUSE: The lawyer’s viewChief executive of the Consumer Action Law Centre Gerard Brody describes some of Aveo’s contracts as among the worst he has seen. “Not only are they over 120 pages in length. They’re dense, they’re hard to understand, they’re legalistic. And the financial obligations in them are eye-watering.”

Some of the clauses state that residents will breach the rules of the village if they are charged with any offence, including late lodging of tax papers or a low-level drink driving charge. And,in some contracts, residents can be directed to replace expensive items like carpets, hot-water services, ovens and heaters if, in the manager’s reasonable opinion, the items require replacing – all while copping tens of thousands of dollars in refurbishment and reinstatement costs to return units to saleable condition on departure.

Under some contracts, if a person dies or leaves the village, they or their estate have to keep paying maintenance fees until the unit is sold. This can take a very long time. In some instances, residents had signed contracts that enabled Aveo to charge maintenance fees for as many as four years after they moved out.

Further, Aveo usually acts as the real estate agent in most unit sales, charging agency fees to the leaving resident or their estate. Restrictive clauses in the contracts deter most real estate agents from selling the units.

It puts Aveo in the box seat.

These incidents occurred during a period when property prices were booming, making it one of the only property asset classes where people lose money.

Geoff Richards sold his freehold property to Aveo under a confidential settlement. He moved to a small unit in a nearby suburb away from his friends at Aveo’s Veronica Gardens retirement village in Melbourne’s Northcote.

“I am now up here in a separate unit, wonderful location. Instead of $6000 a year in body corporate fees, I pay here $1300 a year, yet the same benefits except for an alarm system which didn’t work anyway.”

He also doesn’t have to pay exit fees when he leaves.

Under Richards’ settlement agreement he isn’t allowed to disparage Aveo. But as a certified practicing accountant who has assisted local councils on programs on financial abuse of the elderly, he can comment on the sector in general.

THE AVEO WAY: No easy exitMany residents across the country told Fairfax-Four Cornersthat retirement villages are a financial trap. They say the villages don’t live up to the hype nor the promises represented in their glossy brochures and television ads.

According to the Property Council, the peak lobby group for the multi-billion dollar retirement village industry, most people who live in retirement villages are happy. It bases this on individual retirement village operator surveys and the national McCrindle Baynes Census, which says the vast majority of residents are happy – and happier than they were before they moved in.

However, the joint investigation can reveal that Aveo’s more recent Freedom Aged Care contracts squeeze the time period for capping exit fees to as little as two years.

Under its other new-look contract, known as “the Aveo Way”, which were introduced in 2015, exit fees reach a maximum of 35 per cent after three years and freehold properties are converted to leases. In year one, exit fees sit at 7 per cent, in year two another 14 per cent is added and then a further 14 per cent in year three, which is a total of 35 per cent. There are no sales commissions, marketing costs or refurbishment costs.

Aveo says its new Aveo Way contracts are simpler and it is standardising contracts through the Aveo Way to give residents certainty.

Angela Moore belives she is a victim of the Aveo Way. Moore and her husband Pete moved into the Mountain View retirement village in the town of Murwillumbah in northern NSW, just south of the Queensland border, in 2014.

It seemed like a suitable decision at the time because Pete’s mobility was becoming impaired. “Because of his health we thought we really needed to move into a retirement village which was advertised as they all are, or seem to be, as providing services to help us with our living needs as we aged,” says Angela Moore.

But the couple’s stay would be much shorter than expected.

On June 20, 2015, Aveo held a meeting for residents that sent chills throughout the community. They were told that Aveo wanted to buy all the units that were freehold and turn the village into leasehold, known as the Aveo Way.

“Powerlessness,” Moore says, “in response to a big company saying that they were taking over our homes and ability to sell our homes.”

The Moores had bought into the village because it was freehold. They have a daughter and granddaughter and wanted something to pass on to them when they died.

Moore believed if Aveo bought more than 50 per cent of the units it would devalue the village and the residents would lose power. She – and many others – believed Aveo could then set strata fees to force out the rest of the owners.

She said anybody who had their unit on the market had to vacate it before they would market it for them, which was almost impossible for the majority of people because that meant that they would have to look for rental accommodation, as well as pay the monthly maintenance fees charged by the company.

Moore says that after the meeting she told her husband they needed to leave the village, to get out with some of the money before it was too late. “I felt vulnerable … I said to Pete that this was some potentially huge asset-stripping exercise, particularly over our lifetime.”

After a year of gut-wrenching decisions, the couple decided to move out.

“He was very sick by then but he wanted to know that when he went I was safe and happy, which I wasn’t at Mountain View. He wanted to know that we still had funds, still had assets when we passed away that would be of help to the children that certainly wouldn’t have … or was unlikely to have happened if we’d stayed where we were.”

Shortly after they moved out, Pete died. “We still lost a considerable amount of money but we did move at a time and in a circumstance where financially we were able to recover somewhat but Pete, the move took a lot out of Pete physically. Pete passed away within six months of us moving.”

They bought the freehold unit and garage in 2014 for $225,000 and sold it in November 2016 for a similar price to a retiree who bought the property as a leasehold, meaning Aveo got to keep the freehold title for virtually nothing. After exit fees and other expenses,the Moores walked away with $181,469. They were out of pocket more than $40,000.

Moore says she knows of one person who, in desperation, sold their unit for $70,000 to Aveo. “Then, by the time exit fees were taken out of that very small sum, they were left with a nominal amount, as I understand it.”

Aveo says it does not compel the buyback of any units but confirmed it was transitioning its villages from freehold to leasehold through the Aveo Way.“There is no evidence that switching to leasehold has disadvantaged ongoing residents, who cannot be compelled to change to the new contract, or exiting residents.”

But not everyone agrees. Lawyer Stewart Levitt, who acted for Geoff Richards, says the Aveo Way is akin to selling gold when it is only gold-plated.

“They’re effectively converting freeholds into leaseholds by stealth, and selling the leaseholds as if they were freeholds,” he says. “Many people seem to have been confused as to what they’re actually acquiring when they’ve been acquiring retirement units pursuant to the Aveo Way,” he said.

BRUTAL and BOOMINGIt is a brutal business model that is becoming more honed with each new contract.

Under Aveo’s Freedom Aged Care business, which it started rolling out in 2016, the exit fee reaches a maximum of 40 per cent after two years with 50 per cent share of any capital gain going to Aveo and the resident taking the hit on any capital loss. If a resident moves out after a year they are charged 25 per cent, moving to 40 per cent after two years. The resident shares 50 per cent of the refurbishment and reinstatement costs.

Aveo bought the Freedom Aged Care business in February 2016 for $215 million as part of a new plan to expand its business from retirement villages to include higher care centres. The business model is to provide supported care right up to palliative care level.

It is part of a bigger plan to tap into a deregulation of the sector that came about in February this year, allowing the elderly to direct the government funding they receive for low-care assistance to large service providers, like Aveo’s Freedom Aged Care.

According to the company’s executive ranks, both the new Freedom contracts and the Aveo Way contracts deliver major benefits to Aveo’s financial accounts.

“In financial terms, there’s a very significant value uplift over the medium term for the rollout of both the Aveo Way and Freedom,” Aveo’s chief executive told analysts on a conference call in August 2016.

Given the average age of its residents is 82.8 years old, it is not hard to see why Aveo can roll out the contracts quickly and no doubt lift the turnover of units – the older the profile of residents the less time they are likely to stay.

Tim Kyng, an actuary and senior lecturer at Macquarie University in the department of applied finance and actuarial studies, was given a research grant to build a calculator to help people understand the true cost of living in a retirement village as well as compare different retirement village contracts against each other.

He was inspired after his mother became interested in moving into a retirement village.

“You go to the retirement village” says Kyng, “and talk to the sales person and they give you all these glossy brochures and spend several hours trying to talk you into buying an apartment or buying the right to live in the apartment and it’s really difficult to get them to actually give you the financial details of how the contract works.”

He said exit fees vary from village to village, and the different combinations of entry fee, maintenance fees and exit fees make it difficult to figure out which retirement village deal is the best.

“Our calculator aims to calculate a ‘comparison rent’, like a comparison interest rate for home loans, so that each combination of the fees and fee types can be equated to a rent-per-month payable over the new resident’s expected term of residence,” Kyng says.

Kyng agrees to calculate the cost, for this story, of an 82-year-old woman moving into an Aveo retirement village using actual figures from a Freedom contract, assuming monthly maintenance fees of $1600 and an exit fee of 40 per cent after two years. The result was astounding: if the woman either died or moved out after two years, she would have paid the equivalent rent of $13,300 a month, or more than $3000 a week for the privilege of living in the village.

For that kind of money you could rent a five-bedroom house with a pool in the ritzy Sydney suburb of Bellevue Hill or a four-bedroom mansion (also with a pool) in Melbourne’s Toorak, according to properties listed for rent on domain南京夜网.au in June.

The Consumer Action Law Centre’s Gerard Brody says the contracts and high fees are hard for even sophisticated consumers to understand. He believes some of them are unfair and unconscionable.

The law centre has taken an increasing interest in the retirement sector after being involved in a Victorian parliamentary inquiry last year into the sector, which received nearly 800 submissions from angry residents, including Aveo residents.

“When it comes time to exit, some people can feel trapped. It’s a bit like a financial prison.”

“These fees are too high to enable them to exit, move into aged care, or back close to relatives and family,” he says.

For some residents who do leave, the pressure can be intense in other ways.

Fairfax Media andFour Cornershave seen a property valuation given to a resident at The George in Melbourne’s bayside suburb of Sandringham. The freehold one-bedroom serviced apartment was purchased in 2005 for $230,000. In 2014 – almost a decade later – it was valued by Aveo at $250,000. Then in August 1, 2016, Aveo lowered the valuation of the property to $240,000. After exit fees and other deductions including legal fees and reinstatement costs, the resident would be left with $183,000.

Aveo is currently marketing Freedom Aged Care leases over one-bedroom units in the same village for $600,000. The loan leases are for 99 years, including an exit fee of 40 per cent at two years.

Aveo says its efforts to bring in higher care was aimed “at reducing the number of residents who leave the village for health reasons”.

“Freedom model offers exceptional standard of care to residents, which cannot be compared to a standard lease agreement for a retirement village unit.”

It also says the low price offered to the outgoing resident reflected the lack of demand and the high price for units at the same village reflected the high demand for the Freedom program.

Under the Freedom Aged Care program, documents obtained by the joint investigation show that Aveo has been charging residents of the program $270 per week per person plus maintenance fees of $473 per week and $56 per week for meals, totalling $799 per week. The document says pensioners and part-pensioners could defer up to $430 a week up until exit.

Aveo promotional material.

At another village in Cheltenham, Victoria, documents show that residents have been charged $415 per week per person for the Freedom Care program, $480 per week for maintenance fees and $56 per week for food, bringing the total to $951 per week, with residents allowed to defer up to $580 per week up until exit.

According to Brody, such high charges and the ability to defer fees is really “asset stripping”. Asset stripping and questionable dealings are a recurring theme in Aveo’s villages across the country.

The company’s Freedom Aged Care ads end with catchy jingle “Give me freedom”. Yet in the absence of governments and regulators reining in some of Aveo’s more avaricious business practices, residents are more likely to find only financial internment and servitude rather than anything resembling “freedom”.

For more revelations, watch ABC TVFour Cornerson Monday, June 26 at 8.30pm.

Know [email protected]南京夜网[email protected]南京夜网.au

How parents and experts responded to Pauline Hanson’s comments about children with autism

29/11/2018 | 南京夜网梧桐 | Permalink

IT’S been a big few days of controversy for One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson.
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On Wednesday, she told parliament that students with disabilities should be removed from mainstream classrooms because they put a strain on teachers and schools.

“These kids have a right to an education by all means,” she said.

Students with disabilities are putting a strain on teachers and schools, Pauline Hanson told parliament. Photo: Andrew Meares

“But if there is a number of them, these children should go into a special classroom and be… given that special attention because most of the time the teachers spend so much time on them.

“They forget about the child who … wants to go ahead [in] leaps and bounds in their education.”

Labor MP Emma Husar, whose son Mitch, 10, is autistic, quickly hit back at the comments.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham repeatedly refused to condemn the commentson Thursday, while Senator Hanson maintained she was right and said she had been taken out of context.

This did not stopshockwaves ripplingacross the country, and manyparents and experts have joined in the condemnationof Senator Hanson’s comments.

The expertsTasmania

►Autism Tasmania called Senator Hanson’s comments “reprehensible”. “We cannot stand back and not challenge such hurtful and uninformed comments,” the group said in a statement.

► Moorleah-based neurological music therapist Allison Davies believes the comments are discriminatory and unfair for any children.

Neurological music therapist Allison Davies said “there’s so much anger” over Senator Hanson’s comments.

She said other students could learn from having autistic children in their classroom.

“I was really angry but I was really concerned about the effects that could have on the people who don’t understand this issue and who might agree with her. That could take the acceptance backwards,” she said.

► Autism Centre manager Kathryn Fordyce saidthe comments showed a lack of understanding.

“The biggest challenges faced by people with autism is that kind of ignorance,’’ she said.

Manager of the Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre Kathryn Fordyce with 5-year-old Zoe Slater of Penguin. Picture: Jason Hollister


►NSW Teacher’s Federation president Maurie Mulheron says Pauline Hanson made “not a syllable” of sense in her suggestion that children with disabilities were a strain on schools and teachers.

“The comments were both vicious and ignorant,” Mr Mulheron said.

Maurie Mulheron, president of the NSW Teacher’s Federation. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

“It’s unacceptable in 2017 for anyone harbouring any position of responsibility to make such an ill-informed commentabout kids with autism, or about any students with a disability.

“It was a completely and utterly incorrect statement.”


► Warrnambool autism advocate Bryce Pace has called on Senator Pauline Hanson to spend some time in his shoes.

STANDING UP: Autism advocate Bryce Pace has called on Senator Pauline Hanson to educate herself. Picture: Rob Gunstone

The 18-year-old was diagnosed with autism at nine years old. He said Senator Hanson’sthinking was very outdated.

“To say that they hold other students back – I don’t believe that’s the case,” he said.

“My teachers spend just as much time with me as the other students. If there are people on the spectrum and they’re capable of attending mainstream school then they should be allowed to.”


The parentsNSW

► Asa proud father with not “much of a filter”, Federation Council administrator Mike Eden felt compelled to replyto Pauline Hanson’s attack on children with autism.

The former top flight rugby league player directed a tweet at Senator Hanson after she told parliament students with autism should be separated from others.

Albury West Public School captain Will Eden, who has Asperger’s syndrome, with his mate Jacob Horne. Picture: SIMON BAYLISS

“Hi @PaulineHansonOz My son is 12 & has Autism he transitioned into mainstream & is now School captain Should school “to get rid of him” ??” Mr Eden wrote.


► Bathurst mother Vanessa Comiskey says inclusion is the key for students with disabilities in the education system.“Children to be supported,made to feel genuinely accepted and allowed to participate equally,” she said.

► Pauline Hanson’s call for children with autism and disabilities to be removed from mainstream classrooms is“antiquated” and “ludicrous,” Hunter parents and disability advocates say.

Lisa Ogle says mainstream education has worked for her daughter, Edie Hall, 13, who loves going to school. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.

Lisa Ogle, of Islington, said her severely disabled daughter, Edie, had been in mainstream classrooms from day one, at the suggestion of a school counsellor.

“Because of her very high, complex needs, initially I just assumed she would go to a special school,” Ms Ogle said.“It was really a trial–at first.

“We have seen mainstream education work for my daughter, and the other children around her.”



► Horsham mother Amanda Contal wants to see changes to education to ensure more children with disabilities have a chance to thrive.Ms Contal’s son Tristan, 7, has autism and attends Horsham Special School.

“I was shocked by Pauline Hanson’s comments,” she said.

“It was a very narrow point of view about children with autism because there is such a huge spectrum.

“It broke my heart to hear her comments–I couldn’t believe it.”

► Angela Dobbin has fought for eight years to get her two boys the support they need.

Angela and Allister Dobbin with their two sons, Harryson, 12, and Flynn, six. Both boys have autism, but require different kinds of support. Picture: Lachlan Bence.

Harryson, 12, and Flynn, six, both have autism.

Harryson, who now attends Ballarat Specialist School, was ostracised and bullied by his peers at his previous mainstream primary schools, his mother said.

Because his IQ was deemed “too high” the family had to fight for four years for him to get him appropriate support.

Flynn, whose autism is less severe, wants to be an engineer. He started in a mainstream primary school this year.

Both boys are “thriving” in their respective schools, Mrs Dobbin said.

“Every autistic child is different in the way they learn. It’s like any child, no two children are the same,” the mother-of-three said.

“They all need to be treated as equal. My boys can contribute to the future, they can teach people to be tolerant.”