OPINION: When will we stop violence against women

A WOMAN is killed almost every week in Australia by a male partner or ex-partner.
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Violence against women isn’t something that happens in isolation in developing countries, and more work needs to be done to protect females locally and internationally from sexual harassment and domestic violence.

In neighbouring countries such as Kiribati, Samoa and Papua New Guinea the instance of violence against women is at near-pandemic levels, yet the statistics are also frightening in Australia.

Nearly 20per cent of women have experienced sexual violence after the age of 15.

Aboriginal women in remote and rural communities are 45 times more likely to experience rates of family violence than non-Aboriginal women.

In NSW, 19 out of the top 20 local government areas for domestic assault are rural or regional.

That’s our backyard.

For those of us who have wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, nieces and female friends, this is a dismal reality.

Last week, the Newcastle Herald reported an aggravated sexual assault on a young unsuspecting woman out jogging in Warabrook in the early evening. This is simply too close to home to ignore.

The police caution women against walking alone in the early evening as a strategy to protect them from similar attacks.

We must be careful not to shift the blame for any assault from the perpetrator to the victim.

Hopefully, the police will identify and charge the offender, however it is abhorrent to suggest this young woman put herself at risk.

Recently we have seen the widespread reporting of violence against women, prompting open conversations about how it occurs and what can be done to end it.

The outpouring of emotion for Jill Meagher, raped and murdered in Melbourne last year, is an example of a necessary shift in attitude.

This is also evident globally, in the fallout from the gang rape and subsequent death of a 23-year-old Indian woman in December last year.

There have been strong and sustained calls in India – where roughly half the female population think it’s justified for a man to beat his wife – for societal change so more women are not assaulted, harassed and mistreated based on their gender.

In order to break the cycle of domestic violence against women in our community, there needs to be a commitment to providing sustainable, effective assistance and support services to victims.

Assistance includes immediate and ongoing support for women who experience domestic violence, education programs for school children as well as adults and specialised training for police officers on how to respond to incidents of domestic violence.

Assistance costs money, and our government has supported many initiatives to help end violence against women. But the community must play a role as well.

March 8 is International Women’s Day and the global theme for 2013 is Ending Violence Against Women.

Money raised from official events will go directly to the Critical Services Initiative that funds projects in countries, including Australia, that need assistance in providing these important support services.

Attending these events is also an opportunity to learn more about the work being done all over the globe by organisations such as UN Women to bring about legislative and attitudinal change to gender equity, pay equity and domestic violence.

The Hunter’s official event is being held on March 8 at Wests Leagues Club New Lambton, and will feature guest speakers Terry Lawler and Helen Cummings.

Ms Cummings, herself a survivor of domestic violence and author of the bestselling e-book Blood Vows will share her story in a bid to make a difference.

For more information, go to www.unwomen.org.au

Belinda Smith is the chair of the Hunter Chapter of UN Women Australia

OPINION: Reckless gambles threaten our future

MINING has been part of this country from the ochre pits of the Aboriginals, the first coalmine at the mouth of the Hunter, the gold shafts at Hill End and on to the wealth coming from Cadia gold and copper mine, near Orange.
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It has made an enormous economic contribution to this nation.

As a specialist engineer I have spent most of my 40-year career working for major construction and mining companies on underground and open-cut mines, and in the disposal of the waste products of those mines.

I have worked, and continue to work, for most of the major mining companies and for the big construction companies in Australia and south-east Asia.

Until a few decades ago, mining in this country tended to be confined to relatively small areas.

So even if some mines had adverse impacts on land, water systems, and important environments – take the massive landslides in the Burragorang Valley and at Katoomba, the cracking of the Cataract River, and the draining of swamps on the Newnes Plateau – most impacts from these mines covered limited areas.

But with coal seam gas (CSG) extraction we are dealing with a new animal.

CSG extraction is a relatively new industry and a form of mining that covers very large areas very quickly. It has the potential to adversely affect groundwater systems over large parts of this state.

In order to extract coal seam gas, one first has to depressurise the groundwater in the coal seams and move it to the surface.

So the coal seams are, in effect, groundwater voids – the same as coalmines. But we are no longer talking about relatively localised effects. We are talking huge areas.

The enormous expansion of CSG mining has occurred in a poorly controlled manner over a very short period.

Large areas of our state will be affected by a relatively new industry where the science behind these impacts and the key hydrogeological parameters are poorly understood.

We have very little empirical information about long-term impacts from CSG operations because the industry is so young.

What we do know is that the impacts will develop over many years – and that, if the impacts are substantial, they will be almost impossible to reverse.

The current NSW government listing of exploration licences for CSG totals 189,567 square kilometres, almost 19million hectares.

To this we must add 24,000 hectares in production leases for CSG and all the coalmining areas.

Together this comprises much of our populated area, our forested wilderness, our wetlands and rivers, and our productive agricultural land.

What we do with our water matters.

Rainfall is our primary water source and is subject to huge swings.

In times of plenty, our rivers flow, our dams fill, but most importantly our groundwater systems replenish.

Huge quantities seep into the Great Artesian Basin from the recharge zone along the east coast, into the porous and fractured rocks in the Sydney-Gunnedah geological basin that extends from Sutton Forest to Narrabri, and also into the older rocks west of the divide.

Apart from feeding bores, groundwater sustains the baseflows of our creeks and rivers, and our wetland systems.

Diminish those groundwater systems and you create a tendril effect of damage that extends from an individual vegetable farmer at Picton to a complete river system in the Yarramalong Valley, or at Gloucester.

CSG mining puts our groundwater under enormous pressure.

It is simply a matter of physics, not of opinion, that this depressurisation from CSG mining will adversely affect the whole groundwater system, because like the apple that fell on Isaac Newton’s head, groundwater is controlled by gravity and flows from zones of high elevation to zones of lower potential energy.

How long will it take for the changes to our groundwater to be substantial?

We don’t know.

How extensive will they be?

We don’t know.

One thing we do know is encapsulated by Dr Richard Evans, principal hydrogeologist of Sinclair Knight Merz

‘‘There is no free lunch here – every litre of water you pump out of the ground reduces river flow by the same amount.’’

I don’t believe as a society we should just let this process run helter skelter – a process whose consequences on our environment are not yet fully understood by scientists and engineers.

And we cannot rely on what is called “adaptive management”, because if monitoring of CSG does show significant impacts on water systems, there is very little that can be done to reverse the process once the damage is done.

Wisdom demands that the whole process of CSG extraction in this state be urgently wound back.

That may allow the science to catch up with the present rapacious desire to exploit a resource.

To allow CSG mining to proceed before more is done to understand its impact is a reckless gamble with our future.

Perhaps we can learn from past lessons involving asbestos, tobacco, thalidomide and Agent Orange.

Damage may be done that cannot be repaired.

Dr Philip Pells is a civil engineer who has spent four decades in geotechnical and groundwater engineering.

Travel flies in the face of retail gloom

We are all familiar with the depressed level of retail spending in Australia. From fridges to fashion, and televisions to toys, the picture of the typical consumer is one of short arms and long pockets.
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But even this sobering data has been distorted. Because these broad spending trends ignore the fact that Australians have been spending on travel – in particular overseas air travel.

The bad news is that once that is accounted for, it makes the other areas that make up retail sales look even worse.

When it comes to discretionary spending we are more inclined to take a holiday overseas than buy a flat screen TV – and here is another misconception – it is not all about the strength of the Australian dollar.

That’s part of it, but not the whole story. If it was all about the currency, the outbound travel market would be strong and the inbound markets weak. Both these segments are experiencing solid growth.

So why is this demand for travel not strongly reflected in the earnings from our major airlines, Qantas and Virgin?

In the first instance we are not only using these carriers. The liberalisation of bilateral agreements between governments has allowed more international carriers into Australia.

And secondly, while our local airlines are carrying more people, they are offering discounted fares, and thus are not getting the boost in their bottom line profits. Their market share of overseas travel (and this particularly applies to Qantas) is being eroded and so are the margins.

And it’s even a bit more complicated than this. There is the domestic travel side, which includes business and leisure (or holiday) markets, and then there is the international side.

There has been massive increase in capacity in domestic travel, which is the main reason both Qantas and Virgin reported weaker earnings over the past week.

Then there is international travel, which is particularly interesting. Over the long-term the cost of overseas travel has been coming down and becoming more affordable. This is part of a structural shift in the market. Overseas travel long ago moved to the middle-class market and away from the domain of the wealthy.

If you ignore the business market (which travels because it needs to and is less sensitive to price) the factors that influence overseas travel are just the same as any other purchase decision – price and therefore value.

In the immediate aftermath of the global financial crisis the Australian dollar rapidly appreciated, making offshore travel a far better value proposition.

We are now pretty accustomed to this and despite a number of fundamental reasons, economists said it would fall, but our currency has remained stubbornly high. This might explain some of our reasons for offshore travel. But it doesn’t account for why incoming travel to Australia is also pretty strong.

A Deloitte Access Economics report shows international visitor arrivals during the second half of 2012 accelerated strongly. International arrivals were up 5.8 per cent in December and 4.6 per up on the year. And it is expecting growth to continue at this annual rate over the next three years.

What is particularly interesting about these numbers is that the geographic source of visitors is also changing. It’s no longer about Europe and the UK – growth in international passengers is coming out of Asia. The trend is backed up by financial statements from Sydney Airport, which showed strong growth in passenger numbers.

Again it’s about supply and demand combined with geopolitical change and technology.

Put simply, there are more flights coming into Australia particularly from the emerging middle class areas of Asia. So on the supply side there has been some substantial expansion, which in the past year alone has included two budget airlines entering the Australian market, Scoot out of Singapore and AsiaAir X out of Malaysia.

The existing airlines are also adding capacity (rather than flights) by using larger planes, which are also more fuel and environmentally efficient.

On top of that the Chinese and the Indians are boosting the numbers of inbound passengers. There has also been some revival in traditional markets – including the US and Japan. Outbound travel that experienced a boost when the Australian dollar started its post-GFC rise is only now showing some signs of tapering off in terms of growth rates.

We are still growing outbound travel but the double-digit growth rates have eased, according to Deloitte. Air fares are still coming down but the adrenalin hit from the exchange rate is not as potent, as we have become more accustomed to a high dollar.

Deloitte suggests that this will continue to lose momentum as they expect the currency will depreciate over time. That remains to be seen.

In the meantime, the domestic leisure market remains subdued despite the fact that increased capacity has pushed down airfares. The area of increased activity on this front is derived from visits to family and friends rather than holiday travel.

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

Folau in front seat on one fickle rollercoaster

Seven days is a long time in rugby and a lot can happen to turn around a team’s performance. It’s even longer in the world of the media and there are two stories which have stuck in my mind from the weekend.
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The first is the collapse of support for Israel Folau and secondly the ”discovery” of Eddie Quirk. In reality, neither of these two events should have come as a surprise.

It has been easy for everyone in the past two months to be praising, extolling, wondering, postulating, extrapolating, hypothesising and dreaming about the rise and rise of ”Izzy” in rugby.

This interest has been great for the promotion of the game although it’s important to remember that it hasn’t been Izzy who has been doing all the talking. In fact, all he has been doing since signing with the Waratahs has been showing up to training, meeting his teammates and learning the nuances of the game.

It’s true that he experienced a tough induction to Super Rugby but it isn’t fair that he is now viewed as a failure following his first Super Rugby game while only two weeks ago he was being dubbed the Black Caviar of rugby. Over time you learn nothing is ever as good or bad as it seems.

Saturday’s match wasn’t Folau’s greatest game of rugby but there will be many better ahead.

On the flip side, Quirk was the Reds’ man of the match after putting in a second tireless and effective performance, including setting up the match-winning try. In the space of one day, Izzy gets off the rollercoaster and Eddie jumps on. Suddenly the ”ranga” gets the attention and his life becomes very public. And, so the process works.

With Eddie, as I reminded everyone at our post-game press conference, we were always confident about our back-row depth despite Scott Higginbotham’s departure. I can assure you Eddie’s performance from that night wasn’t a miracle from the heavens. In fact, Eddie debuted for the Reds in 2011 against the Waratahs before being subsequently dropped as he was not ready for the occasion or the level. He went back, continued to work hard, and two years later has dominated in a brutal contest.

One performance should never change the Wallabies’ pecking order but it does get you noticed. I am quite sure if you asked Folau and Quirk they would both dream of becoming national players. Let me assure you, there isn’t a person in the five Australian provinces or in club rugby without the same dream.

Opportunity is not always shared equally in life and some players get the rails run and plenty of attempts while others never get a go at all. The bottom line is your skills and attitude under pressure do your bidding and this applies to Izzy and Eddie. Both players have things to continue working hard on – as Eddie knows it can take some time. But we do know though that you can’t fake it. There isn’t anywhere on a rugby pitch you can hide.

The dilemma for Israel ahead of last week’s game was how much he could replicate from training that would prepare him for a game. The investment made in him both as a player and as someone to promote the sport in NSW meant he was always going to play. However, with no club rugby at the moment it turned out to be only his fourth game of rugby, so it was really on-the-job training as far as he was concerned.

If the Waratahs’ long-term vision is that he can make it big, then that’s worth the investment.

But Izzy brings more than just strong physical talents. He is also a commercial investment, no different to the one made by Greater Western Sydney in the AFL. Every sporting team wants new fans and guys such as Izzy attract media attention and as a result new sponsors and fans. So, in effect, the Waratahs have two horses running.

The one that needs to learn the detail of the game before hopefully becoming a Wallaby and the other is the one that puts bums on seats and gets fans in NSW excited about the game again.

The bottom line is you need balance. Sport needs its heroes and it needs to create interest. There is no question teams need exposure but in the end it’s performance that counts. This doesn’t change if you are Israel Folau, the Waratahs’ PR and marketing machine or knockabout western suburbs redhead Eddie Quirk. The field of dreams is also the field of reality and that’s where it matters most. The court of public opinion is fickle and slippery. Best to let your rugby do the talking.

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Henriques hits paydirt on the toughest tour

HYDERABAD: Australia’s latest Test sensation Moises Henriques is days away from cashing in on his successful ascent to Michael Clarke’s side – the NSW all-rounder is to be upgraded to a full Cricket Australia contract.
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The 26-year-old’s standout debut with the bat – scoring 68 and then 81 not out – was a silver lining in the eight-wicket defeat to India in the first Test in Chennai, belying his inexperience at the highest level as he emerged as a potentially key figure on this tour and back-to-back Ashes series later this year.

After landing a place in the extended squad to the subcontinent, Henriques was not necessarily expected to feature in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series but having impressed when given a chance, he is set for an immediate windfall.

By playing in the second Test, which begins on Saturday at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, he will accrue the points required to qualify for an upgrade to a national contract. The CA minimum retainer is $230,000.

The qualification system allows players not already centrally contracted to be fully rewarded for international appearances on top of the performance payments of $14,000 a Test, $5600 for a one-day international and $4200 for a Twenty20 international. The magic number for an upgrade is 12 points – five for each Test, two for an ODI and one for a T20 match for Australia. Henriques, having played three matches in the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka in the summer, has a tally of 11.

The salary boost will temper annoyance at being fined 10 per cent of his match fee in Chennai by the International Cricket Council match referee Chris Broad for breaching the body’s clothing regulations. A logo on the chin strap of Henriques’ helmet was the offender, the ICC said in announcing the sanction on Wednesday.

In the first Test, only Clarke was able to combat India’s spin bowlers as effectively as Henriques, suggesting he could bat further up the order than No.7. But the captain was quick to water down expectations on the Portuguese-born newcomer despite being highly impressed by his debut.

”He could bat three if we wanted him to,” Clarke said. ”We don’t want to put too much pressure on him. He played really well in his first Test match. Now it’s about consistency.”

Henriques was not as successful with the ball on a Chennai wicket that made life difficult for seamers but with Shane Watson playing as a batsman only in India, his presence adds balance that would otherwise be missing. National selectors have had their eye on him since he began the domestic season with a boom, principally an unbeaten 161 for NSW in a Sheffield Shield match at Bankstown Oval last September.

While Australia were beaten in Chennai, the inclusion of Henriques proved a shrewd move.

”I just think the maturity he showed was amazing,” Australia head coach Mickey Arthur said. ”I thought he was outstanding in this Test match. That was very, very pleasing because it gives you that third or fourth seamer and it gives you another batsman. Let’s hope he goes from strength to strength.”

Henriques’s Test breakthrough comes more than seven years after his hyped debut as an 18-year-old for NSW, and four years after he first played for Australia in the shorter formats.

His first state coach, Trevor Bayliss, recalls the St George product being a supreme athlete as a teenager, and compared him before his first senior match to Mark Waugh.

”He was obviously a guy that had a lot of ability that you thought one day could play for Australia,” said Bayliss, who still works with Henriques as coach of T20 Champions League winners the Sydney Sixers.

”For one reason or another it’s just taken him a little longer than I’m sure he would have hoped.

”I think it’s maybe a realisation from his point of view that, number one, he does feel comfortable at that level now and, two, he’s in his mid-20s now, and you don’t want to hit 30 having never had the opportunity to play to your potential. Between those two things that’s got him knuckled down. With just that little bit of extra experience as well – he’s got four or five years [of first-class cricket] under his belt now – the results are on the board.”

Meanwhile, injured seamer Jackson Bird would not return to India after having scans on a lower back complaint in Melbourne. Bird, who did not feature in the first Test, left the subcontinent on Monday. A replacement was yet to be announced.

“Initial tests performed in Melbourne have confirmed that Jackson Bird has a bone stress injury of the low back,” team doctor Peter Brukner said.

“He will undergo further tests tomorrow (Thursday). He will not be re-joining the team in India.”

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Legal bid looms to stop Van Gisbergen racing

V8 Supercar driver Shane Van Gisbergen.ADELAIDE V8 Supercars turncoat Shane Van Gisbergen could face a legal bid to stop him racing in this weekend’s season-opening Adelaide 500.
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Speculation is rife that Van Gisbergen’s former team is planning to launch a race-eve court challenge to his switch to a rival squad, claiming his move contravenes the terms of his release.

For at least the past two weeks, Van Gisbergen and his new team have been bracing for an injunction seeking to enforce a one-year non-compete clause.

The 23-year-old New Zealander quit V8 racing at the end of last season, citing burnout and personal issues, and was released from his renewed three-year contract with Stone Brothers Racing.

But just weeks after his release, a condition of which was that he could not race for another V8 team until 2014 if he decided to return, Van Gisbergen signed with the family owned Tekno Autosports Holden team.

His about-face angered fans and prompted his former team boss Ross Stone to publicly criticise him, declaring: ”SBR is considering its legal position and whether it is worthwhile holding [Van Gisbergen] to his promises.”

SBR has since become Erebus Motorsport under the ownership of wealthy property developer Betty Klimenko, who has switched the team from Ford Falcons to new Mercedes-Benz AMGs.

Klimenko is known to be furious with Van Gisbergen over his defection and there has been widespread conjecture in V8 Supercars that she is determined to enforce the one-year sabbatical he was granted even if it means a bitter legal battle.

Erebus Motorsport chief executive Ryan Madison declined to confirm or deny that the team was planning to serve an injunction on Van Gisbergen before practice for the Adelaide 500 begins on Friday.

”I’m not at liberty to discuss that,” Madison said.

However, he confirmed Erebus supported the dismay expressed by former team owner Stone – who has remained in a senior management position – over Van Gisbergen’s U-turn.

”We’re not happy about how he has conducted himself,” Madison said. ”We don’t think it’s good for the sport. We share Ross’ disillusionment, absolutely.”

Tekno Autosports driver/co-owner Jonathon Webb would not comment on whether his team expected Van Gisbergen’s position to be legally challenged. ”I’m not in a position to say anything,” he said. ”It’s a touchy situation.”

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Thompson, Robson the likely fall guys

AMID the trauma he has endured in the past three weeks, Essendon president David Evans has learnt plenty. In revealing a costly and detailed review of his club he admitted he has questioned himself and his own performance at the club he vowed to rebuild.
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And although he has learnt some terrible things about what took place at his football club last year, Evans is holding fast to one relationship he sees as crucial to the Bombers’ future: his bond with James Hird.

One year ago the Bombers’ leader admitted there were risks attached to chairing a football club when one of your closest mates is the coach, but he could not have foreseen this.

On Wednesday, in announcing Dr Ziggy Switkowski’s review of his club, Evans said his relationship with Hird had not been challenged in the recent nightmare. If anything, he insisted, they had worked more closely in navigating the revelations that Essendon had become dysfunctional and was being investigated for using performance-enhancing drugs.

‘‘I feel strong,’’ he said, ‘‘I feel there’s a way through this. I feel we will be a better and stronger club for the experience even though what we uncover might be some things that are not good for football.’’

And since that extraordinary press conference in early February Evans has become aware of two key factors since he announced Essendon had reported itself to ASADA and the AFL. One is that the anti-doping agency will take several months to investigate the club – months  in which Evans could be taking decisive action regarding his club’s administrative practices and personnel. Clearly there has to be change and change cannot wait.

The other he would not detail yesterday but related to some disturbing practices that have taken place without his knowledge. Nor, and this is damning for chief executive Ian Robson,  was the administration aware of these practices.

At least three 2012 Essendon players have confirmed to football officials that they were injected in the stomach by Stephen Dank twice a week over a three-month period last season. Those players also named two senior coaches who participated in this supplements program. Dank has alleged those coaches’ supplements were ‘‘a little bit outside’’ the WADA code.

Evans says he has not questioned his coaches because he does not want to compromise the investigation. But it is that allegation that has proved a festering sore inside the club.

At least two coaches at the club are not happy with being smeared  by  the innuendo. Only Mark Thompson has publicly denied his involvement.

Former Essendon captain Matthew Lloyd two weeks ago on Channel Nine called on any coaches who did receive such injections – legal or not – to come forward to ease the tension, but the AFL and the Coaches’ Association won’t go anywhere near the topic.

Thompson has been in denial on several fronts, far less convincingly on Fox Footy on Monday night when he  tried again to play down his authority at Essendon over the past two years. The fact is that for all his coaching brilliance so crucial for the untried Hird, Thompson has had far too big a say in off-field issues and his failure to follow  administrative practices in his zeal to improve and fast-track the Bombers’ fortunes was one reason Paul Hamilton’s position as football boss became untenable.

Thompson was not the only culprit, but there’s no doubt the football department became increasingly cavalier. And there seems little doubt that Thompson pushed for the appointment of Dean Robinson and, by extension, Dank, both of whom were given an irresponsibly long leash. Inexcusable when you consider the players and careers at risk.

Thompson therefore is unlikely to survive and will probably fall on his sword before the year’s end.

Robson, though, must emerge as the most likely scalp. Evans insists this review is not about individuals, rather processes, but given the president admitted his lack of comfort with some ‘‘irregular practices and processes’’ and has been prepared to go to such lengths to uncover ‘‘what failed us’’ surely the buck must stop with the chief executive. For all his expertise in sponsorship and government relations, Robson clearly had no idea of what was taking place in the club’s core business – football.

This is a far cry from the Peter Jackson era. This disaster would not have taken place on his watch. Those players who emerged from last year’s Windy Hill laboratory could have done with a control freak like him.

Evans will survive because the AFL is backing him and he seems to have done everything right since his US sabbatical. James Hird, who is shocked and chastened by people he trusted and how he allowed this to happen, appears likely to survive.  But Evans should be asking himself whether such a close friendship between coach and president was healthy for Essendon.

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Federal Liberal hopeful dumped

THE federal Liberal Party has suffered a blow with the loss of its endorsed candidate for the seat of Isaacs in Melbourne’s south-east.
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Liberal Party state director Damien Mantach confirmed to Fairfax on Wednesday night that business consultant Jeff Shelley was no longer the endorsed candidate for Isaacs, held by federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus.

Only minutes earlier, Mr Shelley insisted to Fairfax that he was the endorsed candidate. ”I am not aware that the party is considering disendorsing me,” he said.

He later called to also repeat the party’s official line that due to unforseen personal circumstances he had withdrawn his nomination for the seat held by Labor with a 10.4 per cent buffer.

Both the party and Mr Shelley refused to discuss the nature of the personal reasons for his withdrawal.

But party sources from the south-east said there were mounting concerns about Mr Shelley’s former employment with troubled Brighton-based solar panels installation company Cool World.

The company is under administration.

Mr Shelley confirmed he had worked as a sales support officer for Cool World for 10 months but he had left in January after the company failed to pay him for weeks.

He denied any knowledge of the company’s finances otherwise. ”I wasn’t privy to the financials of the organisation at all.”

Mr Shelley confirmed that he previously mentioned his Cool World employment on his LinkedIn page but had removed any reference to the company.

He said the timing of his withdrawal from the election race and any difficulties faced by Cool World were ”purely coincidental”.

He also contested Isaacs in 2004 and ran unsuccessfully for the Victorian Liberals against the Steve Bracks-led ALP in 2006.

On Wednesday night Mr Mantach said Mr Shelley’s replacement, Garry Spencer, spent over 20 years in the Australian Defence Force, reaching the rank of lieutenant-colonel and has had a successful career in the IT industry. He was also made a member of the Order of Australia.

”He will take up the fight to Labor and highlight the Coalition’s plan,” Mr Mantach said.

Election pundits both within the Coalition and outside doubt the party is likely to attract the kind of swing required to take a seat like Isaacs, despite performing strongly in recent opinion polls.

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Tiger poised to pounce

Monteath File pic. Bruce Monteath holding up the AFL trophy / cup.Date filed 14 October 1980 . Neg No . N32297 / 300
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BRUCE Monteath, Richmond’s last premiership captain, has revealed he will consider a push for a seat on the club board, and possibly the presidency, if the Tigers stumble this season.

President Gary March will step down in October after eight seasons, with vice-president Maurice O’Shannassy, treasurer Rob Dalton and board member Malcolm Speed the leading candidates to succeed him.

It’s understood Speed is keen to take the role and has the support of several directors on the nine-member board. ”I would almost guarantee the next president will come from the current board,” March said on Wednesday.

But Monteath, a property developer and captain of the 1980 premiership side, told Fairfax Media the Tigers’ on-field fortunes would dictate his next move. ”We just have to sit back and watch and see how it goes and assess towards the end of the year,” he said.

”It really depends on how they go. If they go well, I may not need to get involved at all, or maybe am just happy to get involved on the board. If they don’t [go well], I think we all need to have a good look. Hopefully, this year is going to be a good one for us.

”I am a supporter of what they are doing. With Gary stepping down, it’s probably time for a change … if things don’t go the way they planned.”

Richmond finished 12th last season and is under pressure to make the finals this season for what would be only the fourth time since Monteath held the premiership cup aloft.

March said Monteath was welcome to seek election but did not agree with his stance. ”I don’t like when people say we will sit back and see how the team goes – that’s not why you go on the board. You go on the board to try and help the club be the best it can be in the competition, both financially and from an on-field sense.

”Rain, hail or shine, you have got to take the good times with the bad. Having been through plenty of bad times, it’s nice to be coming out the other end of it.”

March, who has held the top role since 2005, said discussion on his replacement would intensify after August.

He inherited a club in financial and on-field trouble and has overseen a major restructure in all areas which has led to record membership, major investment in the football department and what is expected to be the eradication of all debt later this year.

Monteath said he had been approached by a number of people in the past few years about making a tilt at the board and presidency.

”I don’t think [the club] need any destabilisation. I think Gary has done a good job to get the debt down and work through pretty tough times. It’s really just how it goes this year,” Monteath said.

Monteath met March and Tigers chief executive Brendon Gale last year to express his interest in joining the board. ”I think it’s time we stood up. We have been a sleeping giant for a long time,” he said.

Asked if there were areas where he felt the Tigers needed to focus, Monteath said: ”I would prefer not to say at this stage. Hopefully, it all goes well and we will review it towards the end of the year.”

Monteath could be backed on a ticket by wealthy IT entrepreneur Phillip Allison, although Allison said he hadn’t given any thought to a possible seat on the board, and denied mooted plans to offer $2 million in exchange for club directorships.

Allison has previously sponsored the Tigers, but did not last season and is unsure if he will this year. ”Don’t read too much into that, it’s a business decision,” he said.

Speed, the former chief executive of the National Basketball League, Cricket Australia and the International Cricket Council, has an impressive resume, having joined the Tigers board in October 2011.

He is the managing director of the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports, helping the likes of the AFL, Cricket Australia, the NRL and Australian Rugby deal with major issues.

Speed’s background in dealing with integrity measures, a growing area facing the AFL, has impressed some Richmond officials.

O’Shannassy, with a business background in finance, including with the worldwide BlackRock Investment Management, and Dalton, a senior audit partner at Ernst & Young, are also impressive candidates.

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Broadbridge experience a powerful lesson

Melbourne players remember Troy Broadbridge who died in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.PORT Adelaide’s task in moving on from the tragedy of lost life to the relatively frivolous business of playing football is not an enviable one, but the Power has received invaluable counsel from those who know too well how death impacts both a family and a football club.
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Officials sought out Wayne Broadbridge and his wife, Pam, to help negotiate the difficult terrain ahead as a new season begins without John McCarthy among their number. The Broadbridges, whose son and Melbourne defender Troy died in the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, urged them simply to keep McCarthy’s family close, as the Demons have done them.

”I’ve spoken to the club about the wonderful work the Melbourne footy club did to support Pam and I, and the ongoing support they’ve provided us over the years,” Wayne Broadbridge said.

”We regard Melbourne as the club that we follow, there’s something very deep and dear to us that sits in and around Melbourne. It was an honour to be asked our opinion by Port after John’s life was so sadly taken.”

Port Adelaide football manager Peter Rohde said the club has also spoken to Demons officials from the time of Broadbridge’s death, and members of SANFL club Sturt, who lost a player and trainer in the Bali bombings.

A tribute to McCarthy is planned at the club’s first home game, against GWS in round two, with the Power expecting his family, partner Dani Smarrelli and friends from Sorrento to attend. The make-up of such a tribute is also delicate on what is bound to be an emotional night, as was evidenced in Melbourne’s first game after Broadbridge’s passing.

”We were made to feel very special, particularly on the day, but that’s only part of it,” Wayne Broadbridge said of round one in 2005, when the family was hosted by the club and AFL executive. Among other tributes, Troy’s siblings and wife Trisha stood with players on the MCG and released balloons in his honour.

The Demons defeated Essendon by 46 points that night, but Rohde acknowledged that harnessing emotion would present another challenge to Port’s players in round two, and in the season-opener the week before, coincidentally against Melbourne at the MCG, where McCarthy played his last game in round 23 last year.

”Certainly the Melbourne feedback is that it was very emotional, and maybe it was too emotional for them – they had a good start to that year, but a very poor finish,” Rohde said. ”The whole emotional side of it was a bit overwhelming.”

Wayne Broadbridge concurs. ”There was certainly a focus there with having it as a celebration of Troy’s life, but there’s no guarantee of success as a consequence. But it was rewarding, it was inspiring, the way that the lads performed.”

McCarthy left an indelible mark at Port Adelaide despite spending only one season at Alberton after crossing from Collingwood, and Rohde said the support for players and staff who were devastated by his death on an end-of-season trip to Las Vegas was ongoing. A further tribute benefiting a charity in his name is planned for the round-14 clash with the Magpies.

Rohde said the pre-season had been full of ”little milestones along the way that keep him in the back or the front of our minds”. He said new coach Ken Hinkley had handled well arriving at a club in mourning, and was sympathetic to the reality that the tragedy will be at the club’s shoulder throughout the season.

Rohde said McCarthy’s family didn’t want a grand nod to their loved one, citing the words of his mother, Cath, at his funeral that teammates play not so much for him but with him.

”We’d hope we can recognise John for how popular he was, what sort of person he was, but we and John’s family don’t want to make a huge issue of it either,” Rohde said. ”We want to treat it with respect and move on.”

Wayne Broadbridge finds it hard to believe eight years have passed since Troy’s death. ”Our family’s hearts go out to John’s family, and his partner and those around him, as well as to the players. You know full well the friendships you build in a game like football, they run so deep.”

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Saad ordered to speed up his set shots

PROMISING St Kilda forward Ahmed Saad has been forced to change his goalkicking routine because of a clampdown on players taking too long kicking for goal.
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Saad is one of up to half-a-dozen players affected by the tightening of the 30-second limit on players shooting for goal, one of the less heralded of this year’s crop of changes to AFL rules and interpretations.

The AFL umpires department has spoken to Saad and Saints coach Scott Watters, and umpires have attended St Kilda training to help him adjust to the crackdown, in which umpires will call ”play on” more often if the player taking the shot exceeds the time limit.

Saad regularly moves back at least 35 metres from the man on the mark and will be forced to shorten that approach significantly given the time it consumes.

”He’ll go back and it will be another 25 seconds before he gets in [to kick], so he’s one who has probably had to modify what he’s done,” AFL umpires’ director Jeff Gieschen said on Wednesday.

”The umpires have been going out to the Saints and working with him, and they [the club] have been understanding of the situation.

”Scotty understood that, and St Kilda has been working with him. We just thought we’d be proactive. It’s not about Ahmed, it’s about all the players in the competition who were just stretching that time a little too long, so it’s just a tightening up of that.”

This season will also see a crackdown on the amount of time taken at kick-ins following a behind, the previous allowance of seven to eight seconds to a player kicking in now reduced to five or six.

That will save an estimated one to two minutes per game, but Gieschen said the Laws of the Game committee had also been keen to save time at the other end of the ground.

”They said to us we think some players just take far too long, and if you’re looking to speed quarters up, we don’t want players taking 45 seconds, so the whole process has been hurried up by five seconds,” Gieschen said.

”There are half-a-dozen players throughout the comp that probably stretch that right to the limit. We’ve always given them the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes that walking in can take an extra 10 to 15 seconds.

”Some players have just been told they’re the ones at risk, so they need to hurry it up a little bit, and they’ve done it so far in the NAB Cup. We’ve just let the clubs know, and they’re working with their players with that.

”We’ve timed them, and most of them comply within 21 or 22 seconds, so we’re talking about the ones that are well over 30, heading up towards 40 seconds from time to time.”

Saad was one of the biggest pluses of St Kilda’s 2012, finishing third in the Saints’ goalkicking with 28 goals after being plucked from VFL combination Northern Bullants.

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Malthouse poses concussion sub

CARLTON coach Mick Malthouse wants the AFL to consider a second substitute player in games, to be used solely when teammates are being assessed for concussion.
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Malthouse said he was far more alert on issues of player welfare and the potential for lasting damage that serious knocks to the head could cause than when he first coached 29 years ago, when ”we used to say to blokes, ‘Grow up, get out there again”’.

But he was also concerned about the physical effect on teams playing a man down while doctors were checking a player who had been hit in the head.

”Perhaps what we’ve got to look at is if there’s going to be new rules implemented, and we take a player off for a 10 to 15-minute testing, we’ve got to have the capacity to put a player on for that 10 or 15 minutes, either a sub or a second sub,” he said on Wednesday.

”Then we’re starting to get somewhere because at the moment we’re all panicking about that time the player is off.

”Make no mistake about it, we can all say what we like pre-match [but] during the match we’re going ‘we’re really getting tossed about in the middle here because we haven’t got the resources to replenish it’.

”We’ve got to look bigger and better and more outside to accommodate all new rules.”

The AFL announced on Wednesday it would hold a two-day summit on concussion on March 20-21, where experts from around the world would present the latest research and discuss preventive measures such as rest periods after head knocks and helmet use and technology.

The conference, which is also sponsored by the NRL and ARU, will focus on the best practice in managing concussion, and the AFL expects any changes it makes to its guidelines to be used at community level. In the AFL players cannot return to the field after being concussed.

Malthouse said he could not remember his first game in the then VFL because he was knocked out, and conceded football was sometimes ”violent” because of accidental head clashes.

He expected the league to one day consider the broader use of helmets. ”It’s going to have to come back at some stage to the medical people to say ‘We’ve now developed this [helmet] model that can fit over the head that softens the blow’,” he said.

Collingwood captain Nick Maxwell conceded he was worried for his peers who suffered head knocks, although the industry was improving at resting players if they were concussed. ”It’s got to be the doctors and experts in the industry to come out and say what’s best for the players,” he said.

The concussion debate arose again at the weekend when Brownlow medallist Greg Williams admitted that head knocks he took during his playing days had affected his memory and moods.

Melbourne is currently keeping forward Rohan Bail out of contact drills at training because of two head knocks he suffered at training earlier this year.

Bail, 24, missed four games last season because of concussion symptoms and must pass a series of checks before the Demons clear him to return to the side.

Malthouse welcomed rules tested in the NAB Cup preventing players sliding into opponents’ legs and ruckmen from tangling until the umpire had released the ball because both protected footballers.

With MATT MURNANE

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AFL’s testosterone fears

FEARS have been raised among players that the practice of micro-doping – common in sports such as cycling and athletics – might have been practised by rogue individuals in the AFL.
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Concerns have been expressed to the AFL Players Association that a small number of players might have been taking tiny, undetectable amounts of performance-enhancing substances such as testosterone and human growth hormone, or its equivalents.

The AFLPA has been made aware that players might have used arm patches – similar to nicotine patches – that contain testosterone, or have used creams with properties similar to HGH.

These concerns, while not widespread, have also been aired at club level. The concerns raised are that these practices, although far from routine and certainly underground, are suspected to have been used by rogue players across different clubs.

Concerns about possible micro-doping have been raised after the investigation into whether Essendon took performance-enhancing drugs, though these fears are not pointing directly to the Bombers, who have taken the dramatic step of announcing a review of governance and processes at the club, to be carried out by former Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski.

Former Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority chief executive Richard Ings said micro-doping was the method of cheating used by Lance Armstrong and Marion Jones, and usually involved using a cocktail of very small, undetectable amounts of different substances such as HGH, testosterone and EPO.

Ings said the advantage of micro-doping was that the amounts were small enough to avoid detection, but that by using different substances in concert, including with ‘‘transdermal patches’’, the overall effect on the athlete was significant.

But while the player-generated concerns centre on HGH-like substances or peptides and testosterone, there has never been any suggestion that EPO, which boosts the production of red blood cells and was rife in cycling, has been abused by AFL players.‘‘I don’t know if [micro-doping’s] gone on in the AFL, but I do know that it’s common [in sport],’’ Ings said.

Micro-doping was ‘‘the most common way athletes use banned substances’’, he said.

‘‘It’s the way they do it – creams and patches and micro-doping.’’

Ings said micro-doses of HGH or substances with similar properties were typically injected directly into the blood stream. Testosterone patches can be purchased over the internet without prescription. They are advertised as a means of treating sexual dysfunction or low libido.

The fears about micro-dosing coincide with the players’ association making presentations to each of the 18 AFL clubs on performance-enhancing drugs. One of the main messages has been that the issue of performance-enhancing drugs no longer focuses mainly on testing for these substances and that detection, increasingly, will be by other means.

In the past, the AFLPA has focused on discussing the illicit drugs code – about illegal drugs used recreationally – but after the Essendon investigation, it has placed renewed emphasis on performance-enhancing drugs.

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