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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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Harriss marks Folau in Waratahs training run

HAMILTON fullback Ben Harriss was struggling to walk before Christmas due to a back injury.
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Yesterday he ran opposite Waratahs hired gun Israel Folau, and tomorrow he will play for Waratahs A against Fiji at Allianz Stadium.

Harriss and Warnervale prop Kevin McNamara were this week drafted into the Tahs A squad for the clash against the Pacific nation, which is a curtain-raiser to the Super 15 battle between the Waratahs and Rebels.

He trained with the Tahs for the first time yesterday.

‘‘It was pretty exciting marking Israel Folau and Drew Mitchell,’’ Harriss said. ‘‘I didn’t expect to be training with the full Waratahs.

‘‘It was a little intimidating at first, but the boys got you involved straight away.

‘‘Size-wise I was a bit small, but everything else was OK.’’

Included in the two-hour hit-out was a kicking session with former Wallaby Matt Burke.

‘‘He was awesome,’’ Harriss said. ‘‘We have two more training sessions tomorrow and another light run on match morning.’’

Harriss expects to be on the bench for the game.

‘‘We have Lachy Turner and Jimmy Hilgendorf and a few other Waratahs coming back from injury,’’ he said

Harriss’s call-up continues a remarkable 12 months. He won the Country Championship with Newcastle last season, earned NSW Country selection, was a part of Hamilton’s premiership team and made the Australian under-20 train-on squad.

But his off-season was dogged by a back injury from which he returned to training only a month ago.

‘‘They thought I had a fractured vertebrae and then it got diagnosed as something else,’’ he said. ‘‘I was struggling to walk for a while.

‘‘I ended up resting it for a couple of months and it has come good. I have been back in the gym and training with Newcastle for a month.’’

He has been approached by several Sydney clubs but is content to stay in Newcastle at this stage.

‘‘I have thought about it, but I’m in the third year of my electrician apprenticeship and want to finish that first,’’ he said. ‘‘With the British Lions playing Combined Country in Newcastle, I’d like to be a part of that.

‘‘It’s something I have been working towards since the game was announced. This is a good step towards it and hopefully gets my name out there.’’

THRILL: Ben Harriss.

House for sale, but Bridges keen to stay

ON TARGET: Michael Bridges and Craig Goodwin congratulate Adam Taggart on his goal against Wellington Phoenix last night. Picture: Getty Images
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MICHAEL Bridges has put his Merewether home on the market but the veteran English striker insists he has not given up hope of extending his playing career at the Jets.

Bridges is one of five players whose future is uncertain.

The club has tabled offers to marquee striker Emile Heskey and Swiss defender Dominik Ritter, but Bridges, Marko Jesic, who recently returned from a trial in the US, and little-used Brazilian Bernardo Ribeiro are yet to be offered new deals.

After spending most of the season on the outer, Bridges started in his third straight game against Wellington last night, scoring the second goal in a 2-1 win to cap a brilliant all-round display.

Although 34 and in the twilight of his career, the former Leeds star believes he is as fit as he has ever been. The Jets have spoken to him regarding a role with the Emerging Jets program and indicated they would assess his playing future at the end of the campaign.

‘‘I had a taste of retirement [two years ago] and didn’t fancy it,’’ Bridges said on Monday.

‘‘I want to keep playing, whether that is here or somewhere else.

‘‘We have put the house on the market to keep our options open.

‘‘Ideally, I get another contract here, but if something else comes up, I want to be in position to take it up. It would also be nice to have some money in the bank.’’

Bridges has contacts in England and is likely to return home if there is nothing in the A-League.

‘‘I have a number of mates who are managers at clubs now. I just want to keep playing.’’

Heskey’s retention remains the Jets’ priority.

‘‘We have had discussions with his agent and gone that step further and tabled a formal offer,’’ chief executive Robbie Middleby said.

‘‘It is not just about the offer. It is complicated with his family and with them being in England.

‘‘There is no definite time frame, but it is something that I know both parties would like to get resolved.’’

Jesic returned from the US on the weekend where he was on trial with New England Revolution and travelled with the squad to Wellington.

The former Olyroos striker came off the bench for his first A-League appearance this season.

UK-based agent Ricky Pattenden organised the US trial and is confident of Jesic securing a contract.

‘‘Marko trained with Revolution for a short period and did extremely well, scoring against New York Red Bulls and impressing in games,’’ Pattenden said.

‘‘We are still in talks with the club as they want to sign him, but as it stands they need to sort a few things out their end before this can happen. ‘‘A few clubs in the MLS have shown interest in him, especially after his performances in the pre-season tournament.’’

Meanwhile, Hunter Sports Group chief Troy Palmer assured Jets fans yesterday that the club’s $1million debt to the Tax Office would be settled by the end of March.

Jets owner Nathan Tinkler last week reached a settlement with the ATO over money owed by the Knights and HSG, but negotiations are continuing in regard to the Jets.

According to documents filed in the Federal Court in Sydney, the Knights owed more than $1.4million to the tax office, the Jets owed just over $1million, while Hunter Sports Group was $184,000 in the red. The ATO has applied for all three to be wound up.

The Jets’ case has been adjourned until April 5.

Palmer and Middleby addressed questions from fans on the club’s website yesterday.

When asked about the tax bill, Palmer replied: ‘‘I can assure you there is nothing to be concerned about. There is a number of matters being negotiated with the ATO. We should have these negotiations finalised by the end of March, but as I said, we have no concerns about the process or outcome.’’

● Nick Montgomery missed an 87th-minute penalty as the Central Coast Mariners started their Asian Champions League campaign with a goalless draw at home against South Korea’s Suwon Bluewings last night.

Michael Bridges is congratulated by teammate Craig Goodwin. Picture: Getty Images

Tyro front-rower Sio sets sights high

Scott Sio wants a Wallabies jersey.It’s the most unlikely of places to launch your hopes for Wallabies selection, but Scott Sio will use the ACT XV clash with Samoa A to prove he’s ready to become a Super Rugby regular and enter the Test arena.
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Versatile front-rower Sio will start as the ACT’s loose-head prop at Viking Park on Friday night.

Brumbies coach Jake White is using the match to give his fringe players a chance to get game time and shine during the club’s bye week.

And no one is more determined to take their chance than Sio.

The former Australian under-20s prop played the last 20 minutes of the Brumbies’ victory over the Melbourne Rebels last Friday night.

Trying to force his way into a front-row rotation that includes Wallabies Ben Alexander and Dan Palmer as well as the highly-rated Ruaidhri Murphy is a tough task. But that hasn’t stopped the 21-year-old from setting his sights on earning a Wallabies jersey this year.

”My goal is to consistently be in the game-day 22 for the Brumbies and to establish myself there,” Sio said.

”I know the other guys are established, but I’d love to start a few games this season. Then the Wallabies tour is at the end of the year and you have to set your sights high, so I have to aim for that. I think I can get there, that’s the mentality you’ve got to have and if you set that goal, you have to believe in it.”

Sio played just four games in his debut campaign last year. But his ability to play on either side of the scrum makes him an attractive prospect for White to inject into his line-up during the year.

With the Brumbies boasting plenty of depth this season, the ACT XV clash will be an audition for spots for the squad to tour South Africa.

They will get another chance against Tonga next week, which looms as Pat McCabe’s return game from a career-threatening neck injury if he is given a clearance to play again.

White is also starting a 22-man squad of Canberra premier-division players who will train with and against the Brumbies each week.

Powerful No.8 Fotu Auelua will captain the ACT XV.

With Brumbies great George Smith arriving on a short-term deal with the club, White will be trying to figure out how to fit Smith, David Pocock, Peter Kimlin, Ben Mowen, Auelua and Colby Faingaa into a rotation.

But Auelua was just keen for game time after starting the first two matches of the Super Rugby season on the bench.

”I’m looking forward to it and playing against my own heritage makes the game more meaningful,” Auelua said.

”I just need to work on my game and get a lot more confidence going into the Super Rugby season. George really helped me when I was injured at Toulon with my technique and things, so it’s going to be great to work with him again.”

FRIDAY: ACT XV v Samoa A at Viking Park, 6pm.

ACT XV: 1. Scott Sio, 2. Siliva Siliva, 3. Ruan Smith, 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 5. Leon Power, 6. Jordan Smiler, 7. Colby Faingaa, 8. Fotu Auelua, 9. Ian Prior, 10. Zack Holmes, 11. Stephan Van Der walt, 12. Jordan Rapana, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 14. Tom Cox, 15. Robbie Coleman. Reserves: 16. Robbie Abel, 17. Sione Taula, 18. Les Makin, 19. Gareth Clouston, 20. Tim Cree, 21. Mark Swanepoel, 22. Sam Windsor.

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‘Behaviour’ rules vilify asylum seekers – Lib

A LIBERAL backbencher has accused his party of ”vilifying” asylum seekers after the Coalition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, called for ”behaviour protocols” for those released into the community.
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Mr Morrison also said there should be mandatory notification of asylum seekers to local police and residents in the areas where they are housed.

He said the charging of a Sri Lankan asylum seeker with the indecent assault of a young woman in a university dorm in Sydney ”demanded” an immediate suspension of the community release program and a review to determine new ”behavioural protocols … with clear negative sanctions for breaches”.

But the Victorian backbencher Russell Broadbent said there should ”never be special categories of laws for different categories of people … The rule of law should apply to all and we should not set some people apart.”

”This kind of vilification of asylum seekers is unacceptable in this nation,” said Mr Broadbent, one of a small group of backbenchers who successfully demanded the softening of asylum laws during the Howard government.

Mr Morrison said the government had ”no idea” where 8700 people released on bridging visas, pending assessment of their refugee claims, were living and it was ”very reasonable” to ask why asylum seekers were not released with reporting requirements similar to offenders released on bail.

”This is a wake-up call … This case has exposed the complete absence of commonsense safeguards,” he said.

He said the behaviour protocols should be the ”terms and conditions of how one is expected to behave in the community … the expected standards of conduct”, similar to codes applying in immigration detention centres. Service providers such as the Red Cross and accommodation services would be required to report any breaches of these standards.

It did not make sense to ”wait around for another incident to happen before we put a better system in place”.

But the government said Mr Morrison was ”cynically exploiting an incident which is before the courts to cause fear and unrest in the community”.

A spokeswoman for the Immigration Minister, Brendan O’Connor, said people were subject to security assessments before they were released from immigration detention, but Mr Morrison said asylum seekers could be released before their identity had been properly established.

A spokeswoman for the Immigration Department said that, of the 12,000 people who have been released on bridging visas since November 2011, when the program began, only a ”small handful” had been charged with offences. The department was not able to specify.

Based on 2011-12 statistics, most of the 8700 asylum seekers on bridging visas are refugees. In that year, about 90 per cent of boat arrivals were later found to be refugees.

Barrister Greg Barns, a spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance, denounced the ”fear campaign” of Mr Morrison, ”which implies that there are large criminal elements among asylum seekers, which is just not the case”.

Mr Barns said he had acted for many asylum seekers in the refugee law area.

”Interactions by asylum seekers with police around Australia are few and far between,” he said, and were ”usually very low-level stuff”.

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Old school is way to go, says Pyne

CHILD-CENTRED learning should be abandoned for a return to more explicit instruction driven by teachers, the Liberal education spokesman, Christopher Pyne, says.
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Mr Pyne on Wednesday advocated ”more practical teaching methods based on more didactic teaching methods, more traditional methods rather than the child-centred learning that has dominated the system for the past 20, 30 or 40 years”.

”In other words, mounting evidence suggests that primary school children or students with particular types of disadvantage would be better off being taught this way,” he said. ”Unfortunately this research has been ignored by most teacher training and in many instances attempts to return to explicit instruction pedagogy have been blocked by state education departments.”

As the Gillard government seeks to deliver funding for the Gonski reforms, Mr Pyne chose to focus on teaching standards, denying the school funding system was broken. If the Coalition wins the coming federal election, he said he would set up a ministerial advisory group to improve teaching methods nationally.

The incoming president of the Australian College of Educators, Stephen Dinham, who is delivering a speech on Thursday night saying teachers are being unfairly blamed for education system problems, cautioned on Wednesday against a return to ”chalk and talk” methods of learning.

Professor Dinham, however, acknowledged an excessive use of students engaged in inquiry and discovery-type learning without the basis they need to do it. He said it was false to portray teaching methods as a choice between directing learning and student-centred approaches, saying good teachers used a mix of both. ”We’re bedevilled in education by false dichotomies,” he said.

The education head at University of Technology Sydney, Rosemary Johnston, said child-centred learning was about the teacher acting more like a facilitator helping each student.

”What Christopher Pyne was saying is that, and he’s right, there is now quite a move back to – and I don’t like the word didactic at all – but a teaching approach that acknowledges the teacher has knowledge that the children don’t and that there is a place for direct instruction,” she said.

The Australian Education Union claimed the Coalition was talking about teaching methods as a ”smokescreen” to avoid doing anything to change the inequitable status quo on school funding. ”We’ve had the review; we don’t need a review of the review. We need to get on with the Gonski recommendations if we’re serious about improvement,” the union president, Angelo Gavrielatos, said.

The School Education Minister, Peter Garrett, said Mr Pyne’s comments suggested the Coalition ”would stick to a flawed school funding model that the independent Gonski review found is unfair, lacks transparency and is leaving too many schools and students behind”.

The Victorian Premier, Ted Baillieu said his plan for education funding was fairer and more sustainable, after Fairfax Media revealed Victoria was expected to reap four times as much funding for schools through the Gillard government’s proposed reforms.

with Henrietta Cook

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