Monthly Archives:June 2019

Source: Donnybrook Mail

Theowners of the historic Southampton Homestead, near Balingup,said they were devastated by the news that theirhome had been destroyed by fire.

”My family and friends are devastated at the loss of our beautiful home, Southampton Homestead. The fire started from lightning on the hills above us and quickly progressed down through the valley when the winds picked up early Wednesday morning,” owner Jeff Pow said.

”We were on business in London and so unable to defend or assist the gallant firefighting efforts of friends and neighbours, who have put their lives on the line fighting to save our home. We wish to thank them.”

”As new farmers,we are also deeply distressed by the injuries sustained by the many varieties of animals on the farm and at a dream literally gone up in flames.”

”We are trying to get a vet in now to assess the condition of the animals while we make our way back to Perth.”

”Our loss is compounded by the loss to the West Australian public of a irreplaceable historical treasure, the Southampton Homestead, having been founded and constructed in 1859 by settlers who arrived on the first ships to WA.”

”With the loss of Wallcliffe house to the recent Margaret River fires, we hope this sends a clear message to the state and federal government heritage agencies to act with haste and to provide deluge fire defense systems for the remaining colonial properties before they share out fate.”

The bushfire which destroyed the homestead, along with one other home, wasdowngraded to a watch and act alert on Thursday afternoon.

The warning is for the Greenbushestownsite and areas south to Dalgarup plantation in theShires of Donnybrook-Balingup, Bridgetown-Greenbushes and Nannup.

Thewatch and acthas been issued forpeople south of Hay Road, west of South Western Highway, north of Forrest Park Avenue, west of Maranup Ford Road, north of the Dalgarup plantation and east of Wetherley Road and south of the Nannup-Balingup Road in the Shires of Donnybrook-Balingup, Bridgetown-Greenbushes and Nannup.

But residents of nearbyBalingupwere bracing themselves for an expected wind change that may determine the course of a bushfire burning to the south east of the town.

The Balingup Nannup Road has been closed to all traffic except residents choosing to leave.

Spring Gully Road resident Betty Guest said she and husband John Guest had been fighting the fires around their property last night. They lost some fencing and half a paddock before a firebreak was put through the centre of the property, containing the fire at that end.

Neighbour’s paddocks and a hill on the south side of Spring Gully were lost.

Mrs Guest, who evacuated at 8.30pm Wednesday with another woman, said fires were burning throughout the plantations and bush in the area.

She said last night the flames were crowning, meaning they were burning 100m above the treetops.

“They roared so loudly,” she said.

“Now we’re just waiting to see what the winds are going to do.”

Balingup resident Margie Miskimmin said south east Balingup was possibly in danger from the fire this afternoon, depending on the wind. Residents in her neighbourhood, located off the Balingup-Nannup road, were fireproofing their houses.

Balingup resident Sana Turnock said the sky in Balingup was white yesterday, and today there was ash landing on her balcony and coming into the house. She said she had packed her bags yesterday and was ready to go should it be necessary.

[View the story “Bridgetown, Greenbushes, Balingup and Nannup bushfires” on Storify] Photos of the bushfires taken at 2pm Wednesday by Elsie Scarrott at Maranup Ford.

Photos of the bushfires taken at 2pm Wednesday by Elsie Scarrott at Maranup Ford.

Photos of the bushfires taken at 2pm Wednesday by Elsie Scarrott at Maranup Ford.

This photo was taken in Greenbushes by local resident Clint Walker.

Gary Humphries has received strong praise from Heather Henderson and Tony Abbott.Tony Abbott has hit out at ”ambushes” in preselection contests as he strengthened his support for ACT Liberal Gary Humphries.

The federal Opposition Leader also called for all eligible Liberal Party members to have a say in the looming preselection battle between Senator Humphries and Zed Seselja.

His strong intervention came on Wednesday evening at a party function organised by Senator Humphries’ supporters.

A petition was circulated at the function calling for the preselection process to be overturned on the basis that many of Senator Humphries’ supporters have been disenfranchised.

Mr Abbott praised Senator Humphries’ political skills for becoming ACT Chief Minister before he entered the Senate.

”I want to see those gifts continue to be available to us in the Senate and more widely, so I really want to support Gary’s continuation in the Senate as strongly as I possibly can.

”Gary Humphries has done a marvellous job in politics and should have many more years in politics ahead of him. I think people who have worked like that deserve the support and loyalty of their fellow MPs and their fellow party members,” he said.

Mr Abbott said the Liberal Party believed in competition and its MPs should expect to face challenges for their positions.

”But it’s got to be a fair and clean preselection, there should be no dirty tricks, there should be no ambushes, we leave the dirty tricks and the ambushes to the Labor Party,” he said.

”I hope that every ACT Liberal who wants to participate in this preselection will be given every opportunity to do so.”

Mr Abbott said he hated factions because they meant decisions were not made on the merit of the argument.

”Regardless of the way in which this preselection is ultimately conducted and regardless of who ultimately is entitled to vote, I hope every single one of those preselectors will give it his or her honest, conscientious attention and will make

the decision that he or she thinks is best for our party and our country,” he said. ”No one should be told what to do. No one should be dragooned into voting for one or other candidate simply because some boss says you’ve got to go this way.”

Senator Humphries warned the Liberal Party could lose its sole ACT Senate spot if infighting continued.

”The truth is, in the last two weeks, the Canberra Liberals have taken their eye off the ball,” he said.

”Let’s make sure this unfortunate episode in our party’s history is put behind us as soon as we can.

”Let’s deliver a Senate seat in the ACT to an Abbott government. But to be frank with you I fear whether that is capable of being guaranteed if we don’t decisively settle the situation.

”It’s not a safe seat, it’s not a seat that automatically comes to us without having to fight very hard, it’s in reality a marginal seat.”

The daughter of former prime minister Sir Robert Menzies, Heather Henderson, said it was distressing to see the present ruction in the ACT Liberals. ”We don’t want to lose a senator, which we might easily so … I know we all support him [Senator Humphries] and certainly I do. I find it very sad we have a fight in public and not behind closed doors.”

Earlier, Liberal MP Alby Schultz said in an email Senator Humphries had an ”absolute lack of political nous” because his staff sent an invitation to the ”disgraced” former Liberal Peter Slipper.

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NSW Labor is struggling internally with its promise to deliver greater democracy through rank-and-file preselections before the federal election.

Factions within the party have been involved in a tug of war over who will represent Labor in the seats of Werriwa and Throsby.

The general secretary of the NSW Labor Party, Sam Dastyari, right, last year told all federal MPs including John Murphy (Reid), Stephen Jones (Throsby), Chris Hayes (Fowler), Ed Husic (Chifley), Michelle Rowland (Greenway) and Laurie Ferguson (Werriwa) that they would be expected to win the support of their branch members. The six were parachuted into the seats for the last election.

Mr Ferguson, who was imposed by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, would most probably win a rank-and-file preselection in the seat of Werriwa, but some members aligned with the United Voice union and the so-called ”hard left” faction, linked with the federal minister Anthony Albanese, are said to be supporting the grassroots campaigner Damian Ogden.

The Herald understands Mr Ogden, the NSW Labor deputy general secretary, John Graham, and the union representative Mark Boyd met Mr Dastyari before Friday’s administrative committee meeting to discuss Mr Ogden’s position.

It is understood that the possibility of intervention was discussed, but dismissed.

Mr Dastyari, who has staked his reputation on delivering greater democracy within the party, has said he will not go back on his promise of running rank-and-file preselections.

Mr Ferguson said he was confident members of the ALP Right faction would vote for him and that he had the numbers to win preselection.

However, Mr Ogden denied the claim. ”For two years I have been saying Werriwa is a marginal seat and I was the best one to contest it,” he said.

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Remarkably, the Bioshock infinite team has made the dizzying Skyrails work well as a game element.Bioshock Infinite feels like Bioshock.

It seems strange to say it, but that is my strongest impression after playing the first three hours of Bioshock Infinite earlier this week.

I mean this as high praise, of course; the original Bioshock was not only an excellent and atmospheric first-person shooter, but was also a significant milestone for interactive storytelling and thematic maturity and depth in video games.

Infinite seems determined to match its predecessor in every way. Its world, the flying city of Columbia, is both high-concept and deeply unsettling, much like Rapture before it. Rather than a libertarian capitalist wonderland, Columbia is a sheltered bastion of extreme nationalism, where patriotism has been fused with religious extremism, giving rise to an army of self-described patriots who love their floating city-state with evangelical fervour.

Bioshock’s plasmids, genetically-engineered biological weapons that made your bare hands as dangerous as any gun, return in the form of “vigors”. These vigors allow the expected flinging of fire and electricity, but also stranger effects such as commanding a murderous flock of crows to peck at your foes, distracting them while you take aim with your gun.

As before, there is a variety of weapons, all of them feeling pleasantly old school – pistol, machine gun, shotgun, and carbine rifle, among others. Combat is fast, brutal, and dangerous, and while it has clearly been finetuned and tweaked, it still feels a lot like the hectic gunplay in Bioshock. Also returning is the one-two combo of a gun in one hand and plasmid in the other.

There are subtle differences in the action this time around. There is a limit of two guns, and you can’t carry a huge amount of ammunition for them. This adds to the chaos on the battlefield as you frantically snatch up weapons from fallen enemies while taking fire from their friends. The enemies did not seem to be super-smart, but they did engage in basic flanking manoeuvres, and were smart enough to take cover while reloading their weapons. Another simple but effective change is that your melee weapon now has its own button – you don’t have to select it from your weapons list in order to use it.

This melee weapon is the Skyhook, a bizarre tool that allows you to latch onto and ride the Skyrail, Columbia’s vertigo-inducing roller coaster-like aerial railway. This was one element of the game that I was concerned about them getting right. In early gameplay footage, the player was shown zipping around on the rails, using them to both advance quickly on enemies and escape from them when things got too hot. I had trouble believing it would work so smoothly within the real game.

Amazingly, they made it work. Riding the Skyrails is exhilarating and terrifying, a remarkably original piece of video game design. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I got a feel for this outlandish mode of transport, and before long I was zipping around in the sky, flitting swiftly to sniping vantage points or launching devastating aerial attacks on unsuspecting foes.

The game starts with an amusing parallel to the original Bioshock, with your character sitting in a rowboat in a rough sea and finding his way onto a city in the sky, instead of starting in an aeroplane and being plunged into a city under the waves.

Columbia is stunningly beautiful, and has been realised in amazing detail. Rather than one enormous flying mass, it is comprised of dozens, maybe even hundreds, of individual airborne pieces, ranging in size from single buildings to whole neighbourhoods. While it has been created in the Unreal Engine, same as the original, this is a radically upgraded visual experience. Even when it is creepy or disturbing, Columbia never stops being gorgeous.

Strangely, though, the horror still works. It is unusual to be engaging in tense, bloody battles in a brightly-coloured city beneath a clear blue sky, your battlefield bathed in golden sunlight, but somehow that mismatch between setting and content increases its disquieting nature, instead of defusing it.

Another big change is that the game’s protagonist, a man named Booker de Witt, has a voice, and uses it. He will talk to people he meets, comment on events in the world, and shout obscenities when hurt or frightened. He is not alone, either. Early in the game, you meet and befriend a mysterious young woman named Elizabeth, who has a major impact on gameplay.

Elizabeth has strange supernatural powers that she can neither understand nor control, and it has been revealed that these powers will become very important as the game progresses. During the few hours I played, though, Elizabeth mostly made herself useful by autonomously scavenging for money and supplies, and sometimes tossing over a freshly-loaded gun when mine had run out.

More interesting than this, though, is de Witt’s personal relationship with Elizabeth. She is the reason that he is in Columbia in the first place, having been sent there to retrieve her by some very bad people to whom de Witt owes a lot of money. While it is clear he views her as no more than a job at first, before long he starts to care about her as a friend.

Their growing relationship is a pleasantly healthy counterpoint to the sunlit horrors of Columbia. While it appears superficially to be a pleasant place, it is shot through by fascism, religious fundamentalism, and racism. Some of the propaganda on display is shocking, depicting glorious white people towering over cowering foreigners. This is a society in which black people are still kept as slaves and seen as less than human, though there are at least a few decent people who rail against this injustice.

The religious imagery is also disturbing, with Columbia’s beloved dictator being hailed as a prophet, who received the technology to build the flying city from the archangel Gabriel himself. American founding fathers such as Benjamin Franklin are revered as religious icons, and residents of Columbia regard their home as a new ark, floating free from the “new Sodom” of the America below.

Despite the radically new setting and the many changes to gameplay, Bioshock Infinite still feels authentically like a Bioshock game. The combat is solidly-designed and entertaining, but as before it is the story that drives you forward, and this sequel features enough thrilling setpieces and tender character moments to keep you forging ahead to find out what happens next. Also, while there were no spoilers given, I was assured that Infinite will have a powerful and ambiguous finale that will keep gamers debating and disagreeing for months afterward.

All I know for sure is that I did not want to stop playing. I was back in the Bioshock magic and loving it, and its worldwide release date of 26 March cannot come soon enough.

How about you, readers? Are you hyped out yet, or are you still excited about Bioshock Infinite?

– James “DexX” Dominguez

DexX is on Twitter: @jamesjdominguez

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A CHAMPION speedboat racer who died in a crash on Tuesday afternoon has been remembered as a good mate and a responsible skipper who was highly regarded by all who competed against him.

The body of Steven Antuch was pulled from the Georges River on Wednesday morning after a horror accident on Tuesday afternoon in which his boat overturned near the ramp at the end of The River Road in the Georges River National Park in south-west Sydney.

The accident, in which it is believed the boat split in two, sparked a major rescue operation and search of the river involving police divers and SES volunteers.

The 28-year-old had been travelling in the boat with another man, 27, from Hurstville, who was taken to hospital after the boat rolled. However, he returned to the river on Wednesday morning, joining Mr Antuch’s family and friends for a vigil.

St George Motor Boat Club commodore Robert Taylor said it was a ”very traumatic time” for those in the club. ”We are only a small family and we are all shocked,” he said.

Mr Taylor was so impressed with Mr Antuch he had recommended him for a senior position in the club.

”He was only 28. He was the nicest and most responsible young man I know. So much so I recommended him as vice-commodore of St George Aquatic club, that’s how highly I thought of him,” he said.

”A lot of young blokes are a little bit irresponsible, drink too much and are rowdy. Steve was not like that.”

Mr Taylor described Mr Antuch as a ”competent boat driver” who was ”highly regarded by his competitors”. He was a champion racer with records for bridge-to-bridge events, he said.

Police said the boat was submerged following the accident.

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New South Wales has demanded the immediate payment of more than $40 million owed by the federal government under a school computer program.

The NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli wrote to his federal counterpart Peter Garrett on Wednesday to warn him a failure to pay would force the program to end a year earlier than agreed, triggering the sacking of 610 public school-based technology support officers.

The angry letter prompted fresh assurances from the Gillard government that the payments under the Digital Education Revolution scheme were imminent.

Mr Piccoli said the dispute centred on the federal government’s failure to make payments of $20.1 million linked to progress reports of July last year and January this year.

”That is, a total of $40,245,000 is currently due to be paid to NSW, half of which is now at least six months overdue,” he wrote.

Mr Piccoli gave formal notice of the dispute and demanded payment by February 28, or he would esclate the matter to the Council of Australian Governments.

Mr Garrett replied that the July progress report had now been accepted and the first payment for 2012-13, $20.1 million, would be made in the next payment cycle on March 7.

Mr Garrett’s office said progress reports revealed that as of July, the NSW government had nearly $63 million of unspent Digital Education Revolution funding in reserve.

In the letter of reply, Mr Garrett said the accrual of funds came through economies of scale and because the unit price of devices had fallen in the five years the agreement had been active.

”These factors, together, demonstrate that the cost of sustainment is less in 2013 than it was when the [Digital Education Revolution National Partnership] was signed,” he said.

The Digital Education Revolution agreement, struck in 2009, aimed to improve learning in schools by upgrading technology, connecting optic-fibre, training teachers in IT, providing online resources and connecting parents to their children’s lessons online.

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Join the Markets Live blog from 8am

Australian shares are set to open flat to lower a day after closing above 5000 points for the first time in almost three years, while world stocks were cautiously higher.

At 6am on the ASX24, the SPI futures contract was 5 points lower to 495. The Aussie dollar recovered some of its recent losses after strong consumer sentiment data yesterday saw investors trim bets of further cuts to official interest rates. In recent trade, the Aussie was buying $US1.035, roughly in line with yesterday’s close, but more than a full cent above Tuesday’s low of $US1.0228. It was also buying 96.77 yen, 76.94 euro cents and 66.56 pence.

Locally today, earnings season continues with ASX Ltd, Goodman Fielder, Mirvac and Wesfarmers reporting first half profits. Rio Tinto releases full-year results later tonight while David Jones today reports second quarter sales results.

Making news today

In economics news:Melbourne Institute consumer inflation expectation for February

In company news:The following companies report first-half results: ASX Ltd, Goodman Fielder, Mirvac Group, Whitehaven Coal, Wesfarmers, Forge Group, Perseus Mining, Paladin Energy, Mineral Resources, Adelaide Brighton, Aurizon HoldingGrainCorp Ltd full year update and guidance callRio Tinto full year resultsDavid Jones Q2 sales results

Analyst rating changes:Commonwealth Bank cut to underperform at CIMBOZ Minerals cut to sell at Deutsche BankDomino’s Pizza cut to neutral t JPMorganCarsales苏州美甲美睫培训.au cut to underperform at CIMBSkilled Group raised to buy at Moelis & CompanyCommonwealth Property cut to underweight at JPMorgan

Offshore overnight

United States

With about 2 hours left in trade, US stocks were fluctuating between gains and losses, after benchmark indexes rallied to five-year highs, as investors weighed economic reports and President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

Key numbers:Standard & Poor’s 500 added 0.1% to 1520.67 Dow Jones Indus Avg lost 0.3% to 13,977.89 Nasdaq composite added 0.33% to 3197.06


European equities advanced while the yen has risen against the dollar amid uncertainty surrounding Tuesday’s Group of Seven (G7) statement on foreign exchange volatility.

Key numbers:London’s FTSE 100 added 0.33% to 6359.11 In Frankfurt the DAX 30 added 0.67% to 7711.89 In Paris the CAC 40 added 0.32% to 3698.53


Most Asian markets closed higher, but Tokyo sank on profit-taking and a stronger yen.The Japanese currency picked up after a Group of Seven (G7) statement that said ‘‘excessive volatility’’ in exchange markets hurts financial stability, as they tried to calm talk of currency wars ahead of this week’s G20 meeting.

Key numbers:Japan’s Nikkei lost 1.04% to 11,251.41Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taipei were closed for public holidays



World oil prices dipped in subdued trading after the United States reported a rise in its crude stockpiles. The US government’s Department of Energy said that the country’s crude inventories climbed by 600,000 barrels last week, confirming slack consumer demand. Brent North Sea crude for delivery in March eased 11 cents to $118.55 a barrel in late London deals.New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for March, eased four cents to $US97.47 ($A95.09) a barrel.

Precious metals

Palladium futures settled at a 17-month high, while platinum marched higher, as traders continue to sift through reports of a potential supply disruption in Zimbabwe.Palladium for March delivery, the most active contract, on Wednesday rose 65 US cents, or 0.1 per cent, to settle at $US772.05 a troy ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. This was the highest settlement price since September 2011.The most actively traded platinum contract, for April delivery, rose $US12.50, or 0.7 per cent, to settle at $US1,729.70 a troy ounce on the Nymex. This is the highest settlement price since February 6. Gold for April delivery fell $US4.50, or 0.3 per cent, to settle at $US1,645.10 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.  

Base metals

Base metals closed mixed on the London Metal Exchange (LME), struggling for direction amid a lack of clear market drivers.At the PM kerb close on Wednesday, LME three-month copper was down 0.1 per cent at $US8,225.50 a metric ton. Aluminum was up 1.1 per cent at $US2,142/ton.

How we fared yesterday

The ASX barrelled past the psychologically important 5000-point barrier on Wednesday to close at its highest level in more than 4½ years.

Buoyed by Commonwealth Bank’s strong half-year results, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index jumped 1 per cent higher to close at 5003.7.

BusinessDay with agencies

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THOUSANDS of Catholics have bid an emotional farewell to the Pope, at two of his final public appearances.

Benedict, seen by the public for the first time since announcing his resignation, looked tired but healthy as he began his General Audience in a big Vatican audience hall.

He was greeted with cheers and a standing ovation, and then sat and read a speech to the audience. He began with his reasons for resigning – the same he gave to a meeting of cardinals on Monday.

“I have (decided to resign) for the good of the Church, after much prayer and having examined my conscience … realising that I am no longer able to carry out the Petrine ministry with the strength which it demands,” he said.

He thanked the faithful for their support since his announcement, saying “In these days which have not been easy for me, I have felt almost physically the power of prayer – your prayers.”

His talk focused on the beginning of Lent, and followed a theme of the tests of faith that a modern Christian is confronted with. He reiterated that it was the duty of a Christian to oppose abortion, euthanasia, and “the selection of embryos to prevent hereditary diseases”.

The Vatican has said Benedict will play no part in the selection of the next pontiff, however his words will be closely scrutinised as cardinals begin discussions on the church’s next step.

At a briefing yesterday, Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said Benedict would hold a farewell audience with the College of Cardinals – who will choose his successor – on the morning of his resignation on February 28th.

According to reports in Italian newspapers, he will then leave the Vatican by helicopter for Castel Gandolfo, the Papal home in the hills outside Rome, as a temporary home before he moves into a convent in the Vatican that is being renovated for the purpose.

Yesterday evening, Benedict held what is believed to be his final public liturgy – a mass in St Peter’s Basilica.

He invited the congregation to “pray for the path of the Church going forward at this particular point in time”.

He also thanked everyone and asked for “a special remembrance in your prayer”.

The Pope will hold a final audience in St Peter’s Square on February 27, but there is not any scheduled official farewell.

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