Monthly Archives:January 2019

WARATAHS coach Michael Cheika has called for an end to Australia’s cumbersome two-pronged player contracting system.

Faced with 21 of his 35-man squad coming off contract at the end of this year, many of whom are Wallabies, Cheika said the system was a nightmare to work within.

”We make it more difficult for ourselves by having the two components,” he said at the Super Rugby season launch in Melbourne on Wednesday. ”It’s not great, in a competitive environment, having it split like that. It should be one negotiation, [the franchises and the ARU] should be working together in one negotiation because our goals should be the same.”

In Australia a Super Rugby side signs a player for a certain amount before the ARU agrees to a ”top-up” payment in the case of players wanted for Wallabies duties. It can create uncertainty when a club offers what it believes it can to keep a player but the ARU’s valuation either does not make the deal competitive enough against another team’s or is at odds with the club’s assessment.

Recent examples were Test halfback Will Genia, who agreed to terms with the Force before a last-ditch bid by the Reds kept him in Queensland, and five-eighth Quade Cooper. The Reds signed Cooper on a three-year deal but dissatisfaction with the ARU component on Cooper’s part led to a months-long stalemate that escalated into a full-blown and costly public meltdown.

In the case of the Waratahs, Cheika faces a triple threat this year. Under the limitations of a salary cap, he has to balance players such as Berrick Barnes, Sitaleki Timani and Wycliff Palu – who have signalled their intent to play overseas – several long-time Wallabies he hopes to retain, plus a handful of players who stepped into the Test arena for the first time last year and will be looking for improved deals and ARU top-ups.

”What I have to do, especially with the players who are on top-ups with the ARU, is make the place as difficult as possible to leave,” he said.

”Obviously we do our best from the financial side and we hope the ARU values the player as much as we do. That’s what it comes down to.”

The situation is much the same for the other provinces, although they have fewer Wallabies to factor in.

In New Zealand, the NZRU centrally contracts all players then tops them up if they make national teams.

Last year’s Arbib review found Australia’s federated structure had worsened the divide between Super Rugby teams and the ARU, but ARU chairman Michael Hawker backed ”central organisation but local delivery” as the best model.

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Jane DeGabriel, left, and Deb Stevenson monitor the bats in the park lands.IT IS hard to work out where the racket is coming from among a rustic clump of stringybarks in Centennial Park. Then the black blobs hanging from the branches become visible: a colony of perhaps 1000 grey-headed flying foxes has set up camp, chirping, screeching and wriggling their way through another misty morning.

”What you can hear are alert calls, babies calling to their mothers, and territorial calls as well,” said the CSIRO ecologist Adam McKeown. ”At this time of year, males are just starting to establish territories, younger males are play fighting with each other.”

It’s census time for flying foxes, as scientists try to work out how vulnerable the species is. Though listed as protected, it has been eight years since a survey was completed, and not all bat colonies, known as ”camps”, were studied at the same time.

Starting on Thursday, a three-day national effort involving hundreds of volunteers from NSW, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT will all count bats using the same method, and be repeated every three months over a four-year period if funding continues.

It should show whether the best estimate of between 300,000 and 400,000 remaining bats is accurate, and whether the population is in serious decline, as other studies have found.

Some experts have said the species, so often maligned as messy, noisy nibblers of fruit trees, could be ”functionally extinct” in the wild by 2050.

Part of the problem is flying foxes are notoriously mobile – colonies constantly reform and move – and bats can travel up to 120 kilometres a night to forage for food.

”Bats move around – these animals here in Centennial Park might be in Gordon tomorrow,” said Jane DeGabriel, a programs and policy officer with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

Ms DeGabriel was undertaking a training program before the census, being run by the CSIRO, to ensure bat watchers across eastern Australia will all use the same counting methods.

There are thought to be roughly 300 grey-headed flying fox camps in eastern Australia and researchers plan to measure as many of them as possible between Thursday and Saturday.

The program is supported by the NSW Environment Minister, Robyn Parker, who promised that the state would commit resources to the full four-year study.

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Fairfax journalist Julie Power having finishing touches applied before her photoshoot.MY TRANSFORMATION from an average Aussie woman to a 1950s pin-up gal took three hours and a small bottle of champagne.

To get the hourglass figure idealised in the 1940s and ’50s, I was trussed, plucked and taped. A girdle shaved four inches off my waistline. Sparkly Wizard of Oz shoes lengthened my legs.

I had to learn to jut my hip out just so, how to angle my foot inward so it looked longer and leaner (a technique perfected by the father of pin-up photography, Gil Elvgren) and hold my hand in an unnatural shape.

Funnily enough, my legs were shot separately to my body – and photoshopped back on later – because it was impossible to keep them that way for very long.

My shoulders were pushed back. I sucked in my stomach on command to add definition to my shape.

My hair was set in tight rollers and laquered with 1950s American hairspray.

My ”girls”, as breasts are called in the pin-up biz, were given enough cleavage for me to share with Christina Hendricks of Mad Men.

A little black beauty spot made me feel like my mum when she competed for Miss Northern Rivers in the 1940s.

Finally, I learnt to ooh when the photographer Sasha Dobies surprised me in sexy lingerie hiding behind a big red book.

By the time it was over, I felt hot, I felt beautiful. But the photos were too much for my twin sons and my partner. He said: ”I liked the old Julie.” You’ve got me. Happy Valentine’s Day, darling.

Julie Power’s makeover was provided free of charge by SherbetBirdie苏州美甲美睫培训.

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Ian Macdonald arrives at the ICAC inquiry.IAN MACDONALD’s business partner, who is considered a ”crucial witness” in a corruption inquiry is understood to have checked himself into a mental-health centre.

John Gerathy, the business partner and lawyer of disgraced former minister Ian Macdonald, has told the Independent Commission Against Corruption he is ill and unable to give evidence.

The Herald has learnt that Mr Gerathy, who was due to appear this week, has told investigators he will not be well enough to attend.

The inquiry is investigating allegations that Mr Macdonald, as resources minister, subverted a government coal tender for the financial benefit of his friend and colleague Eddie Obeid. Mr Obeid and Mr Macdonald are both former ALP upper house members.

It was revealed that Mr Gerathy, who has a business called Bagman Properties, has bankrolled Mr Macdonald to the tune of more than $550,000.

Counsel assisting the inquiry, Geoffrey Watson, SC, said Mr Gerathy was a ”crucial witness” and that it was his handwriting on documents that showed intimate knowledge of the proposed sale of Cascade Coal to publicly-listed company White Energy.

Mr Gerathy’s document noted that the Obeids, codenamed ”The Irish”, were to receive $60 million and that Mr Macdonald was to receive $4 million from his friend Greg Jones’s $60 million share of Cascade. ”This matches perfectly with the deal done by the Obeids with Cascade, did you know that?” Mr Watson asked Mr Macdonald. When he said he did not, he was asked how would his partner Mr Gerathy know about it and not him. ”John often had many businesses and operated completely and utterly independent of me. I’m not, I don’t live in his pocket,” Mr Macdonald said.

Financial records show that Mr Gerathy, who was appointed by Mr Macdonald to the Wine Council and the Homebush Motor Racing Advisory Board, has been making regular payments into Mr Macdonald’s’ bank account totalling $450,000. He repaid a $100,000 debt of Mr Macdonald’s.

Six days after the ICAC issued Mr Gerathy with a notice to produce records of financial dealings with Mr Macdonald, a caveat appeared on Mr Macdonald’s property registering the money as a loan.

”Do you see any connection between the two? It seems a bit fishy doesn’t it?” Mr Watson asked. ”Oh, it’s not fishy,” replied the former minister.

Mr Watson suggested once the Cascade sale came through, Mr Gerathy would be repaid ”and you’d be rolling in clover”. Mr Macdonald denied it.

Mr Gerathy appeared briefly at the ICAC last year when he was caught by the corruption inquiry arranging for a former clerk to remove the file of Tianda Resources from his previous law firm.

The inquiry heard damaging evidence that after Mr Macdonald appeared at a private sitting of the commission last September, he immediately rang Mr Gerathy, his good friend and business partner.

”Did you attempt to retrieve this file from Shaw Reynolds shortly after being told by Mr Macdonald that he had been called here and had been giving evidence?” Mr Watson asked Mr Gerathy at the time.

”Not, not, that is not my recollection, Mr Watson,” Mr Gerathy answered.

The file was that of his former client, Hong Kong-based businessman Alan Fang, of Tianda Resources. Mr Fang recently told the inquiry that both the Obeids and Mr Macdonald discussed doing a coal venture before Mr Macdonald called for the tenders.

Mr Gerathy’s former law partner told the inquiry last year that as soon as he discovered Mr Gerathy’s conveyancing clerk had beaten him to the Tianda file, he demanded it be returned immediately. When he opened it, crucial documents were missing.

Mr Gerathy, who denied removing any material from the file, was told he would be recalled to the witness box, but because of his illness that now seems unlikely to occur.

Mr Macdonald will return to the witness box on Thursday.

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Orange tales … the shop where Ian Macdonald says he works.LOCALS in Orange are abuzz with gossip about the former mining minister, who appears to have fallen on hard times.

On Tuesday, Ian Macdonald told the inquiry he had been too busy to read all the transcripts of the evidence, saying: ”I do cleaning and work associated with a shop and I’m pretty busy.” Yesterday, he said again he had been occupied because ”I have to earn a living”.

Several people have spotted the 63-year-old former minister at a premium greengrocers, Fresh on Woodward, an attractive small shop that specialises in fresh produce and gourmet preserves.

Annette Nunn, who owns the butcher shop next door, said Mr Macdonald’s wife, the former bureaucrat Anita Gylseth, had been working in the grocery most days of the week, but Mr Macdonald did not seem to do much.

”I couldn’t tell you what he does there,” Ms Nunn said. ”I see him sitting out the front talking … He might take boxes out the back occasionally.”

The owner of the grocery shop, Margot Connors, said she could not comment.

But a friend of Ms Connors told the Herald the Macdonalds had intended to buy the business, but could not get a bank loan. She had been told they now hoped to lease it.

Mr Macdonald has certainly had trouble with the bank. In evidence before the ICAC on Wednesday, he explained that when he sold his home in Northbridge, anything he had left over was ploughed into paying off some of the mortgage he had over his farm on Canobolas Road in Orange.

Pressed about how he was going to repay a questionable loan to a friend’s company, Mr Macdonald said: ”I haven’t got the funds to pay it unless I sell my property, and I’ve been in the process of selling my property, properties for over a year.”

Curiously, the Central Western Daily reported this week that Mr Macdonald had in fact recently taken his property off the market.

When contacted by telephone, Ms Gylseth declined to clarify the arrangement regarding the grocery shop.

”I am not interested in you getting a story right,” she said. ”You disgust me.”

Ms Nunn said she and her husband were not impressed by the evidence that had been given to the inquiry.

”He can go and jump in the lake as far as we’re concerned.”

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