Dec 12

Foghorn hops to the challenge

HEAD OF STEAM: Shawn Sherlock has earned nationwide recognition for his work as head brewer at Foghorn Brewhouse located in King Street, Newcastle.The creative process of brewing drives Foghorn Brewhouse head brewer Shawn Sherlock.

It has inspired him to dabble with everything from hop-heavy India pale ales to mixing seafood into stouts.

“A craft brewer’s role is a lot like a head chef’s role, compared to a winemaker for example,” Sherlock says.

“With wine it’s so much about getting the soils right and the palate to know when the grape is right to go and blending them down the track.

“In brewing we’ve got this huge range of ingredients that we’re not directly involved in growing or supervising the hops. So we’re taking this wide range of ingredients and using our vision to put them together for a recipe that is hopefully tasty, good, and in my case, different and interesting.

“I don’t want to brew mainstream beer. That doesn’t mean I don’t brew beer that isn’t approachable, but I want to brew beer that’s focused on taste and quality.”

Located in King Street, Foghorn is named after the iconic coal ship horns which blast over the CBD.

Six fermenting tanks produce 1800-litre batches of beer three times a week, including porters, stouts, pale ales, IPAs, pilseners, wheat beers and Belgian and English ales.

All beer is produced on site and doesn’t require freight, which allows for a minimum turnover of three weeks from brewing to the customer’s glass.

Most bottleshops and pubs stock beer brewed months ago. Speaking to Sherlock his passion for Newcastle is infectious.

“In an era when manufacturing is moving out of town and to some extent dying, bringing back a manufacturing trade into the centre of the city was something good, albeit in a new different way to the old days,” he says.

Last yearFogHornErina opened on the Central Coast. All beer is brewed in King Street and couriered down the M1.

A thirdFogHornremains in Sherlock’s final vision.

“We haven’t got any immediate plans and we don’t have a particular location in mind,” he says.

“I would hope we can grow. With a brewery this size, we could probably stretch to a third one before we can expand the equipment itself, but there’s a lot of water to flow under the bridge yet.”

   Dec 12

Troy Grant says NSW bushfire response shows why RFS HQ should stay in Sydney

Emergency Services Minister Troy Grant said the current metro headquarters of the Rural Fire Service allowed it to host eight government agencies as bushfires raged on Saturday and Sunday. Photo by Wolter Peeters. ►RELATED:

Tragedy strikes Wentworth Browns againBowman property saved as Hugh reunites with WinxHomes and livestock lost as fires continue to burn across the stateLeadville blaze strikes prized studs, homesA “well-oiled”responseto the weekend’s bushfires justified the NSW Rural Fire Service being located in Sydney, according to Emergency Services Minister Troy Grant.

Government again copped criticism last week after Shooters, Fishers and Farmers’ Orange MP Philip Donato asked why the service’s head office, and associated jobs, would not be relocated to the bush when the current lease at Lidcombe is up in 2018.

But Mr Grant said the current metro headquarters allowed the service to host eight government agencies on Saturday and Sunday, allowing emergency groups to co-locate easily, and to broadcast and communicate more effectively with media.

“The location of the RFS headquarters means it is able to quickly and readily respond to events like those we saw over the weekend,” Mr Grant said.

Regional councils and regional volunteer organisations had lobbied government since 2015 to bring the office over the Great Divide to better fit its ‘rural’ moniker, and to deliver more jobs to regional towns.

In December Mr Grant’s predecessor David Elliott dashed those hopes and declared the NSW Rural Fire Service would instead move to a state-of-the art facility at Olympic Park at Homebush.

The Shooters, Fishers, and Farmers Party took up the cause again this month, with Mr Donato and arguing a the relocation of the Department of Primary Industries to Orange was a successful precedent for decentralisation.

MLC Robert Brown also said moving the service bush would also save government money in Sydney rent, while modern technology would bridge the distance between the city.

Mr Grant said it was essential for the headquarters to be convenient to major media outlets, operational stakeholders, and support agencies.

“During peak operational times the State Operations Centre within headquarters can swell to over 200 multi-agency personnel,” he said.

Almost 70 per cent of Rural Fire Service staff work in regional offices and local fire control centres

Mr Grant said government will continue looking at other opportunities for investment in emergency services infrastructure and operations across regional NSW.

   Dec 12

ReviewWhose Wives Are They Anyway?

THEATRE REVIEWWhose Wives Are They Anyway?DAPA TheatreDAPA Theatre, Hamilton. Ends February 25English-born actor-playwright Michael Parker, now resident in the United States, has notably written farcical comedies that appeal to American audiences. This play, for example, has two company vice-presidents having a golfing weekend while their wives shop in New York. They find themselves in trouble when they encounter the unsmiling female head of the firm that has taken over their company and demands to meet their wives that night. Amusing chaos ensues, with one of the men dressing, with a blonde wig, as an attractive woman, and a hotel receptionist bribed to be the other wife. And the chaos grows when the real wives turn up.

Director David Murray and a good acting team make this an enjoyable show, though the first night performance showed a need for sharper delivery of some lines. But the actors’ movements raised laughs, especially scenes that had three people in a bed, at least one virtually hidden, and the head and legs of different occupants visible. And they responded well to the demands placed on them by movements around the set, which includes the hotel reception area, an adjoining lounge room, stairs, hallways, room doors and two adjoining bedrooms.

Oliver Pink and Conagh Punch keep swiftly on the move as the two golfers, with Pink’s David astutely manipulating his younger colleague John’s behaviour and that man showing in return how he has risen to a senior position at a young age. Maddy Lardner keeps the laughs coming as the increasingly inebriated receptionist, repeatedly pouring herself glasses of champagne to try to relax her nervousness. Carol Hong is a suitably unsmiling hotel manager, Rob Williams is an amusing hypochondriac handyman, who is adept at using problems, such as a breakdown in the hotel’s phone system, to suit his own purposes. Jennifer Dixon’s attractive but stern and sharply worded company head would have anyone running for cover. And Natalie Burg and Beth Traynor are delightful as the shopped-out wives looking for relaxation as they arrive with bags of purchases from noted New York stores.

The staging’s main weakness is the characters’ handling of phone calls from people wanting to place bets on racehorses. The actors’ delivery of the puzzled responses when they answer these calls , including their repetition of the horse names and other words used by the callers, needs to be stronger, so that watchers laugh rather than look puzzled.

   Oct 13

Forecasters tip rates steady, economy weaker than RBA expects

n Business Economists executive committee chairman Stephen Halmarick says economic growth is expected to be moderate. Photo: Louie Douvis’s leading forecasters don’t believe the Reserve Bank when it says the economy will grow 3 per cent this year and 3.25 per cent in 2018. The forecasts, in Friday’s “Statement on Monetary Policy”, are well above the median forecasts of 2.4 per cent and 2.8 per cent released by the n Business Economists executive committee on Tuesday.
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Elected by their peers, the executive committee comprises 21 forecasters from each of the big four banks and firms such as UBS, JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Their median forecast of 2.4 per cent matches exactly the average forecast of the 27 experts who took part in this month’s BusinessDay Scope Survey.

“The committee expects the n economy in 2017 to grow at a pace that is similar to that of 2016,” chairman Stephen Halmarick said in a statement. “Economic growth is expected to be moderate and driven by strength in net exports and growth in household consumption. Dwelling investment will also add modestly to growth, but business investment is expected to contract again.”

None of the committee expects a recession in 2017 with the most pessimistic assigning it a probability of 25 per cent. Many quoted probabilities of less than 10 per cent. Longer term, by 2020 the committee expects GDP growth of 2.8 per cent, an unemployment rate of 5.1 per cent and a cash rate of 2.5 per cent.

On balance, the committee expects the Reserve Bank to leave the cash rate steady for an extended period. “A few committee members continue to expect the Reserve Bank to cut the cash rate further, but the committee agrees that the bank is close to the end of its easing cycle,” Mr Halmarick said.

Like the Reserve Bank, the committee expects iron ore and other commodity prices to slip from their recent highs but does not expect a return to the lows reached in 2016. Opinion was divided about the effectiveness of monetary stimulus in China and the impact of President Donald Trump in the United States. Most expect two more hikes in the Fed’s federal funds rate in 2017, each of 25 points.

The executive committee will present the forecasts at the ABE annual forecasting conference at the Reserve Bank in Sydney on Wednesday morning.

Peter Martin is economics editor of The Age.

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   Oct 13

Capitals cop major injury blow on eve of finals

Abigail Wehrung. Photo: Rohan ThomsonCanberra Capitals coach Paul Goriss will call on three players to fill the void left by Abigail Wehrung after the guard’s WNBL finals hopes were shattered by injury.
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Wehrung was ruled out for the next eight weeks on Tuesday morning just hours before she was named in the WNBL team of the week for her sublime 18 points in 20 minutes last weekend.

Wehrung damaged ligaments in her ankle and she will miss the last two regular season games and a potential finals campaign if the Capitals can break their play-off drought.

Goriss will turn to Kate Gaze, Alice Coddington and Jazmon Gwathmey to shoulder Wehrung’s workload in games against Adelaide on Thursday night and Townsville on Saturday night.

“We’re not going to shy away from the fact that Abbey’s injury is a blow to us,” Goriss said.

“But we’ve covered without her or [Gaze] and Alice at different times this year. As much as it is a blow, and he has been outstanding, it’s not as if we don’t have cover there.

“We’ve handled some adversity already this season so for me we have to push ahead as business as usual.”

The Capitals are preparing for what looms as an emotional clash against the Adelaide Lightning at Tuggeranong on Thursday.

The game will likely be the last of popular captain Carly Wilson’s career as she prepares to retire after more than 350 games and almost 20 years in the WNBL.

It also doubles as the Capitals last game at Tuggeranong Stadium as the club works towards shifting home games to the National Convention Centre next season.

“In a way there are some historical moments for the clubs this weekend,” Goriss said.

“There is still a chance we could host a final there and that would be a really nice, a really good way to farewell Tuggeranong.”

The Capitals are fifth on the ladder, but could finish as high as third if results go their way.

But the simple scenario is they need to win both games against Adelaide and Townsville to make the play-offs for the first time since 2011.

“It’s going to be huge, we need these two wins to stay alive and make finals,” said guard Lauren Mansfield.

“That’s been our goal for the season so we know what we’ve got to do. We have to be ready, Adelaide is going to be tough.”

The match will also help raise money for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, with money to be donated for points scored in an ActewAGL All Stars match.

Former Wallaby and ACT Brumby Joe Roff is part of the ActewAGL side, with $300 to be donated for every three-pointer and $200 for every two-pointer in the half-time contest.

NBL Hall of Famer Cal Bruton, ex-Capitals Lucille Bailee and Linda Muir, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, University of Canberra vice-chancellor Deep Saini and ActewAGL marketing director Paul Walshe will be in the All Stars side.


Thursday: Canberra Capitals v Adelaide Lightning at Tuggeranong Stadium, 7pm. Tickets available at the door.

Saturday: Canberra Capitals v Townsville Fire at Townsville Stadium, 8pm.

   Oct 13

Wallaroos begin Women’s Rugby World Cup funding drive

Big year ahead: Wallaroos captain Ash Hewson. Photo: Peter RaeThe Wallaroos will not be paid to represent at the Women’s Rugby World Cup in August, but things are looking bright, with a fundraising campaign and another jersey sponsor set to give the team every chance of success.
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The national women’s program is kept afloat by the n Rugby Union and is understood to cost it about $500,000 each year.

The ARU pays for accommodation, flights, food and whatever is required for its XVs athletes, but stops short of paying a salary or match payments, as has been the case at previous world cups.

‘s contracted female sevens players are understood to be paid from $20,000 to $50,000 by the ARU, before sponsorship payments and Olympic grants from the n Sports Commission are taken into consideration.

There is a limited return on investment for the ARU when it comes to the Wallaroos, given their matches are not broadcast on television and there is no money from ticket sales.

It is a big year for the Wallaroos, though, with a 3½-week World Cup starting in Ireland on August 9.

The ARU announced at the Super Rugby season launch on Monday that Vodafone had come on board as back-of-jersey sponsors for the Wallaroos, to go with the Buildcorp logo that will adorn the front of jerseys.

A sevens gold medal in Rio has promoted the image of women’s rugby in , and there is a desire to give the Wallaroos every chance to keep that going.

The Pearls received funding from the n Sports Foundation before the Olympics from a pool of $1.8 million donated to rugby across different formats.

Another funding campaign has been set up for the Wallaroos to give them professional support, in addition to what the ARU will provide financially.

The ASF, which was set up by the federal government in 1986, is designed to help sports raise money, be that at a grassroots or Olympic level.

It is the only organisation in that offers tax-deductible donations, and last year it helped the Olympic sevens sides with costs associated with preparing for the Games.

Chief executive Patrick Walker said his organisation had been working with the ARU and n Rugby Foundation to ensure the Wallaroos were supported in a similar way.

“We feel the sevens example is a fantastic example because the sevens did get funding and they were able to play their preparation games and they were able to have camps of training together,” Walker said. “You just look at the outcomes of gold in Rio; the more game time and support the Wallaroos get, the better off they’ll be by the time the World Cup comes around.”

Fairfax Media reported last week that a number of ‘s women’s sevens stars – including co-captains Sharni Williams and Shannon Parry – had signalled their intent to play at the World Cup.

They will have to finish their sevens commitments, which wrap up in France in late June, before they can turn their attention to training with a XVs team.

Wallaroos player Kirby Sefo shares the view of Rugby Union Players’ Association chief executive Ross Xenos that the greater good of women’s rugby needs to be taken into consideration.

“Essentially, we want to take our best team to go to the World Cup, so some of those girls would be in that match-day 23,” Sefo said. “I know that the XVs coaching management always keep that open to us and keep that in mind that they are looking to try and bring those girls in, so I hope they can.

“Any support for the women’s rugby, especially after how the sevens has gone, is welcomed from the XVs girls.”

   Oct 13

‘Fake news’: Coalition dismisses criticism of its digital performance

Keeping a straight face: Labor digital economy spokesman Ed Husic. Photo: Andrew MearesMounting criticism of the Commonwealth’s technology efforts have been dismissed as “fake news” by the Coalition’s digital innovation minister.
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The government was mocked this week after two of its MPs put a forward a Parliamentary motion congratulating the government “for pursuing an extensive technology reform agenda that will change the way ns interact with government services for the better.”

The move came as Fairfax revealed the latest Commonwealth tech wreck, a failed attempt to replace the Child Support Agency’s system, was chewing through at least $100,000 a day in taxpayers’ money, most it going to pay contractors.

Last week it was revealed the Tax Office was still struggling to recover from December’s disastrous crash of its online systems and as a result, much of the ATO’s digital work program this year was being abandoned in a desperate struggle to get tax time started on schedule.

The government has endured a storm of criticism over the Centrelink “robo-debt” recovery program which uses an automated data-matching program to try to track down people who have been overpaid their welfare benefits and frustration with the troubled myGov portal has been running high for several years.

A major digital goal of the Turnbull government, a one-stop Commonwealth website to incorporate the current bewildering array of 1500 official federal sites, has been all but abandoned after a Canberra bureaucratic turf war.

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It was against this background that two Coalition backbenchers, Ted O’Brien and Andrew Wallace, rose in parliament’s Federation Chamber on Monday to move their motion to congratulate the government.

Labor’s digital economy spokesman Ed Husic lost no time ridiculing the Coalition over its notion.

“After census fail, after the ATO website was down for days, after the Centrelink robo-debt fiasco and after concerns emerging about the CSA’s IT system, the Member for Fairfax moved to congratulate the government for pursuing an extensive tech agenda reform that would change the way ns interact with government services for the better – seriously?

“Is there a provision in the standing orders for either irony or grand self-delusion?

“That’s the only way this resolution can be debated.

“You just cannot be serious.”

But digital innovation minister Angus Taylor came to his colleagues’ defence with a statement to tech-site innovation .

“The Opposition keeps on with its fake news,” Mr Taylor said.

“It is unfortunate [Mr Husic] has descended to cheap politics.

“He should spend more time listening to what we’re doing.

“The critical thing he has missed is that there was a new Federal digital agency established late last year with an expanded remit.

“Structural changes to the agency were needed and their implementation began this year.

“The new remit will include a strong focus on delivery of shared platforms and other areas.

“The [Digital Transformation Agency] has been working to reform the whole of Government ICT agenda.”

“In one month alone we streamlined the log in for myGov that saw a doubling of users and saved the n public over 6000 hours of time waiting on the phone.”

   Oct 13

Gladys Berejiklian’s councils ‘reset’ about delivering on her housing affordability promise

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, flanked by local government minister Gabrielle Upton and deputy premier John Barilaro at Tuesday’s announcement. Photo: Louise KennerleyGladys Berejiklian’s much anticipated “reset” on the toxic issue of forced council amalgamations has turned out to be more conceit than retreat.
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Less than a fortnight ago the Premier acknowledged the angst the issue was causing across NSW, promising “I will fix this” amid expectations of a greyhounds-style backdown.

Instead, she has unveiled a response that is an attempted political fix for the Nationals in the bush in the face of the rising minor party vote and a means to pursue her ambitious pledge on housing affordability.

Far from soothing community angst and taking the political heat out of the issue, anti-amalgamation campaigners are threatening to raise hell at the forthcoming North Shore byelection.

On the face of it the announcement contains a blatant double standard.

Nationals leader John Barilaro declared the decision to end pending mergers in regional areas was all about delivering certainty for councils fighting the move in the courts.

Contrast this explanation with Berejiklian’s announcement that the Sydney metropolitan councils also fighting forced mergers in the courts would receive no such relief. None of Barilaro’s certainty for them.

Piling on the confusion, she explained that it would have been unfair to treat already merged city councils differently to those resisting. That, of course, is precisely what the government has done in the bush.

The Premier eventually explained the conflict by admitting the government should have dealt with regional councils differently to those in the city in the first place.

She argued that proceeding with proposed mergers in the city was necessary to address housing affordability, reduce waste and cut the time it takes to approve development applications.

That exposes Berejiklian to accusations that she is simply doing the bid of developer groups like the Property Council and Urban Development Institute of .

But it’s an explanation consistent with the government’s stated determination to streamline the housing approval process, including through the planning act, to increase supply in Sydney.

Just as importantly, it also makes sense politically for Berejiklian, who has named housing affordability as a top priority.

The argument goes that mergers will help boost supply, which is her favoured housing affordability lever.

As for the North Shore byelection, Berejiklian is gambling there will be at worst a swing against the government in the safe Liberal seat, not a loss.

And if so, that a bit of short-term electoral pain is worth it to help deliver on her long-term housing affordability promise.

   Sep 14

No love lost in Parliament on Valentine’s Day

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (centre), Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Minister for Local Government Gabrielle Upton hold a press conference in State Parliament House. Photo: Louise Kennerley NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian fielded her first question time as Premier on Tuesday. Photo: Louise Kennerley

The questions came thick and fast to and from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, but bouquets weren’t given out. Photo: Louise Kennerley


Gladys Berejiklian’s first question time as Premier fell on Valentine’s Day, and love was in the House.

It was written in the eyes of Opposition Leader Luke Foley as he introduced his new Labor members to the house. It oozed between the backsides of an overflowing new government frontbench (and actually off the side in the case of Multicultural Affairs Minister Ray Williams).

It even softened the Greens into allowing the freshly sworn Shooters, Fishers and Farmers member Philip Donato to share their crossbench, albeit with the tactful placement of red-carded Liberal Glenn Brookes sitting between them.

And then there were the unlucky in love, those who had been relegated to the backbench in the January shuffle, who glowered and yawned behind the ebullient honeymooners.

But if Berejiklian had dared to hope that the spirit of love, peace and harmony would extend to the opposition, she was to be disappointed.

Her own ascension to the job, along with the cabinet shuffle and midday announcement that arranged marriages between councils in rural and regional areas would not go ahead provided her opponents with ample fodder for the opening of the season.

The man who had a PhD in planning had been moved to education, which he confessed was not his area of expertise, Mr Foley needled, while the man who was an expert in education had been shunted to the backbench “because the new leader of the Nationals hates him”.

“And in health they take the person who’s been in the portfolio since 1994 to refresh the cabinet and replace her with the guy who’s been here since 1991.”

Mr Foley taunted that the Premier had been elevated to her position by factional lobbyists and lurking machinists, and he challenged why she had reversed council amalgamations in the bush but was sticking to them in Sydney.

Ms Berejiklian parried.

“I appreciate the question from the Leader of the Opposition but I ask him to actually, by the end of question time, to have his position made clear,” she said.

“The rumblings of that side of the house have become apparent, Madam Speaker. They support mergers, they know they have a leader who has no policy and no principle.

“The Leader of the Opposition has had a lot to say about this but the sad thing is he still doesn’t have a position.” She wagged her finger. “You have until the end of question time.”

Mr Foley: “I would like to move the motion and let’s get it on.”

If Ms Berejiklian considered his comment a little forward on this of all days, she gave nothing away.

“But if I did that you would have a different position by the end of question time.” She smiled triumphant, glanced around the room, resumed her seat. There was no love lost.

   Sep 14

Plan to help us decipher which vitamins and herbal remedies actually work

The Therapeutic Goods Administration is looking to reform the complementary medicine industry. Photo: Jennifer SooThe vitamins and supplements you buy could soon have a government tick of approval if they are found to be evidence-based.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration is looking to reform regulation on complementary medicines so consumers have a better understanding of whether the billions we spend on them is giving us any health benefit.

At present, a listing on the n Register of Therapeutic Goods only means the product is safe, not that it delivers its stated claims.

But a review into regulation of the industry has recommended companies apply for approval if research finds its product effective.

Monash University Associate Professor Dr Ken Harvey said the change would make a world leader by building trust in the industry.

“This would greatly advance the future of complementary medicine if it gets implemented,” he said.

“[At the moment], there is no assurance of efficacy. There is no assurance that the product works. They can make whatever claims they like.”

It comes after a Choice investigation found one in three n pharmacists recommend alternative medicines that have little or no scientific evidence of working.

Four Corners also aired its own investigation into the complementary medicine industry on Monday night, which found seven out of every 10 ns take some form of vitamin or supplement.

The TGA released a consultation paper on Tuesday seeking feedback into the review.

The Review of Medicines and Medical Devices Regulation also recommended providing protections for companies that fund evidence-based research so that it can’t be copycatted.

Dr Harvey said this would encourage more clinical trials as companies would be safeguarded against having their researched ripped off to sell similar products.

Another recommendation was to eliminate the ability of companies to make unsubstantiated or extravagant claims by imposing a limited list of claimed health benefits a company could put down when making an application to the n Register of Therapeutic Goods.

Dr Harvey said there was a push back from industry lobbyists that argue it would put n companies at a commercial disadvantage.

However, he said although there could still be room for the system to be gamed, it was a step forward in improving the industry.

Complementary Medicines was contacted for comment.

The consultation closes on March 28.

   Sep 14

Malcolm Turnbull’s new attack is a scare campaign, and it’s going to work

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has had an epiphany over energy. Photo: Andrew Meares Shadow Environment Minister Mark Butler (centre) during question time on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Watching the partisan battle over blackouts, renewable energy, and soaring power prices, there was a sense on Tuesday that it was Malcolm Turnbull who was more effectively honing his lines, and thus isolating his opponents’ weaknesses.

This is despite the fact that the once green-tinged PM has surrendered more of his own reputation in the conduct of this debate than Bill Shorten.

And it is despite Scott Morrison unhelpfully brandishing a lump of coal in the chamber last week – a visual so egregiously contrary to Turnbull’s early presentation, as to suggest that he was making this very point.

Turnbull’s right-ward trajectory has seen him bleeding progressives, with his support falling steadily since assuming the top job.

Voter disillusionment over his indifference to the causes he once championed – forward-leaning positions on climate policy, marriage equality, the republic – is usually cited.

But Turnbull has himself sloughed off some voters recently, having had an epiphany. Faced with the fight of his political life, he has concluded that chasing the shallow affections of browned-off cosmopolitans is a fool’s errand. Many were never Coalition voters anyway.

This realisation has freed the PM to target what he argues is the left’s ideological blindness on renewables and its cold indifference to the practical costs of too rapid a transition, for households and businesses.

Like the best political attacks, Turnbull aims to reduce a complex policy argument to a basic equation: South has the highest level of non-synchronous wind-solar energy, yet it also has the most expensive, least reliable electricity supply in the country.

You do the maths.

He cites examples such as Haigh’s Chocolates and large fisheries stretched by sky-rocketing power bills and slammed by calamitous outages. The goal is to combat Labor’s virtuous, future-focused policy, with tangible real-world consequences being felt now.

This explains why Turnbull so eagerly seized on Mark Butler’s description of the situation in SA as a series of small and large hiccups in the power supply.

Butler, Labor’s energy and climate spokesman, had been complaining about the government’s shameless politicisation of the blackouts.

He had a point. But in South , the debate is beyond politics now. Labor cannot afford to appear cavalier about rising electricity costs and collapsing confidence in the power supply in SA. There, comparatively abstract concerns over climate change have been overwhelmed by the tangible concern over energy security and the pressing reality of ever high prices.

Having read this switch clearly, Turnbull is now shaping to construct this harsh reality in voters’ minds well beyond the central state’s parched borders.

Scare campaign? You bet, and it will work too.

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   Sep 14

Cranbrook headmaster’s ‘misleading’ letters

Nicholas Sampson, headmaster of Cranbrook, leaves the Royal Commission in September 2015. Photo: Jason South Senior Counsel Assisting Gail Furness at the hearing earlier this month. Photo: Supplied

The Commission is examining factors behind abuse claims in the Catholic church, with data showing seven per cent of priests were alleged offenders between 1950-2010. Photo: Mathew Lynn

The headmaster of one Sydney’s most expensive private schools, Cranbrook, wrote “misleading” letters about a teacher accused of child sexual abuse at his former school and failed to report the allegations to a higher authority, a royal commission has found.

Nicholas Sampson, then the headmaster of Victoria’s Geelong Grammar, paid teacher Jonathan Harvey to retire early in 2004 to avoid any formal complaints of child sex abuse being made against him.

Harvey was later found guilty of sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy known as BLF by repeatedly plying him with alcohol, fondling his genitals and forcing him into a threesome with another man in the 1970s.

Mr Sampson told the commission he was alerted to allegations against Harvey by the victim’s brother, BLW, and conducted a “fairly cursory” investigation before asking Mr Harvey to retire early.

The commissioners found Mr Sampson should have notified the Victorian Institute of Teaching about the allegations and that he “should have made a documentary record of the reason [Harvey left the school]”.

Instead, Mr Sampson wrote letters to Harvey thanking him for his “outstanding service”, praising him as a “wonderful teacher, an outstanding housemaster, a fine and thoughtful colleague and a tremendous and committed schoolmaster”.

A second letter from Mr Sampson to Harvey confirmed an extra year of pay following his retirement “due to the exceptional service [he] offered”.

The commission dismissed Mr Sampson’s defence that the letters were for personal use: “The letters were plainly kept amongst the school’s formal records in relation to Harvey,” it found.

“We also reject the submission that the letters were not misleading. No other records were produced which recorded the real reason for Harvey’s departure from the school, and no explanation was given as to why such documents were not produced.”

Mr Sampson, who became the headmaster of Cranbrook in 2012, an Anglican, $35,000-a-year school in Bellevue Hill, told the commission he was acting in the best interests of the victim, BLF, who did not want his identity revealed.

“We accept that Mr Sampson attempted to act in the best interests of BLF by securing Harvey’s resignation without disclosing his identity,” the Commission found. “It is clear, however, that he should have notified the Victorian Institute of Teaching.” Royal Commission: Vatican has no test for paedophiles

In a separate sitting on Tuesday, the Commission also heard there was no requirement for the Catholic clergy to be screened for sexual attraction to children but that the Vatican does have a detailed assessment procedure for homosexuality.

The Catholic Church’s central authority spent 13 years developing a protocol on homosexual tendencies among potential priests but has stayed “silent” on the issue of paedophiles, the commission heard.

The commission is examining factors behind abuse claims in the Catholic church, with data showing seven per cent of priests were alleged offenders between 1950-2010.

“As I understand it, the Vatican is specific that you must test for homosexual tendencies but the Vatican is silent in that same way on testing for children,” Commissioner Andrew Murray said.

Sister Lydia Allen???, who assesses candidates for the Seminary of the Good Shepherd in Homebush, said the Vatican was working on such a document.

“I have asked them if they have any documents on this situation of child abuse and they don’t yet … it’s part of a project they are going to work on,” she said.

“They do not have . . . anything that says, ‘You must assess for that’.

“However, I think it would be an unspoken rule. I don’t think it needs to be stated explicitly because it’s so obvious.”

David Leary, an academic and Franciscan friar, told the inquiry the assessment process was flawed.

“The first test for a candidate for either religious life or the seminary or for the priesthood is not a question about whether or not they’re homosexual,” he said.

“It’s about whether or not they are compassionate and that’s the thing that needs to be tested.”

Dr Leary said the Catholic church was “highly resistant” to understanding how its structures may have led to child sexual abuse.

“I don’t think we understand the psychology that underpins … child sexual abuse,” he said. “It’s really clear in every other jurisdiction except the church.”

Peter Thompson, rector of Vianney College in Wagga Wagga, told the commission it would be impossible to effectively screen every candidate for the priesthood.

“No one can infallibly predict that someone is not going to offend,” he said.

The hearing, before Justice Peter McClellan???, continues.

   Sep 14

Andrew Walker says ‘the fire still burns’ if ACT Brumbies want 43-year-old to make a comeback

Andrew Walker playing against the Crusaders in 2002. Photo: Nigel MarpleAndrew Walker admits making a comeback at 43 years old seems too crazy to be true, but the cross-code veteran declared “the fire is still blazing” if the ACT Brumbies want him to play again.

Walker has emerged as a potential recruitment option for the Brumbies as coach Stephen Larkham considers adding another player to his roster after injuries to Lausii Taliauli and Tomas Cubelli.

Walker hasn’t played professional rugby since retiring from the Queensland Reds in 2008 and he would become the oldest player in Super Rugby history if he is lured back on to the field.

Walker concedes he’s no longer the try-scoring freak he was in his prime, the dual international says he can offer wisdom to a Brumbies side that has lost more than 500 games worth of experience this year.

Larkham and Walker are yet to speak formally about contracts or whether Walker would be able to handle professional rugby again a decade after he retired.

But Walker said a taste of action at the Brisbane 10s last weekend reignited his passion.

“I haven’t really stopped playing footy, so my fitness is pretty high,” Walker said.

“I’ve probably lost about 10 per cent of speed, but I make up for that with experience. We can do things with the Brumbies and set it back on the right track again.

“The fire is still blazing, as soon as I threw the jumper on last weekend it turned into a bonfire. I was thinking, ‘how good is this?’.

“I really, really love the Brumbies so if there was anything I could do to help, then I’d do it in a heartbeat.”

The Brumbies are without Stephen Moore, Matt Toomua, David Pocock, Christian Lealiifano, Joe Tomane, Taliauli and Cubelli this year, leaving a gaping hole in squad experience.

Walker spent 16 years playing rugby league and rugby union at the highest level and showed at the Brisbane 10s age hasn’t diminished his magic.

However, the transition back into Super Rugby would be a giant leap given Walker retired from professional duties in 2008.

He still plays rugby league in Brisbane, is a personal trainer and was even working on his fitness on Tuesday night with the “Break the Cycle” charity, which aims to offer life-coaching and mentoring to prevent self abuse, self harm, addictions, and low self-esteem.

“I know it’s a big ask to be coming back at 43 years old, but my body is holding up really well.I was a bit sore after the 10s but I’m already training again,” Walker said.

“If Bernie [Larkham] came with a contract, I’d be firing. I have been thinking about it … it’s a matter of me thinking ‘can I do it?’.

“I think I can. I have looked after myself since I finished playing professionally and the fire in the belly really fired up when I got to play in the 10s.

“There are a lot of new guys at the Brumbies and what I noticed out there was that they weren’t talking that much.

“I think that’s where Bernie would love to have me, to help the kids. If it does happen, it will give a bit extra. It would bring the youth back out in me again.

“It’s a big ask and I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it … I’d put that jumper on again in a heartbeat.

Larkham conceded the Brumbies coaches “half joked” about Walker making a comeback at the Brisbane 10s, but it planted a seed about what he could offer the team.

Walker could be add valuable experience to the Brumbies bench if required at Super Rugby because of his ability to cover a variety of positions.

Walker would become the oldest player in Super Rugby history if he is asked to make a comeback, beating Brad Thorn’s record of being 39 years old.

“I did see that statistic. I’ve always loved a bit of history, I’ll take it,” Walker laughed.


February 25: Canterbury Crusaders v ACT Brumbies at Christchurch.