Archive for December, 2018 | Monthly archive page

Daryl Gibson applies for top coaching job at NSW Waratahs

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

Throwing his hat into the ring: Daryl Gibson wants to replace Michael Cheika as NSW head coach next year. Photo: Brendan Esposito Throwing his hat into the ring: Daryl Gibson wants to replace Michael Cheika as NSW head coach next year. Photo: Brendan Esposito

Throwing his hat into the ring: Daryl Gibson wants to replace Michael Cheika as NSW head coach next year. Photo: Brendan Esposito

Throwing his hat into the ring: Daryl Gibson wants to replace Michael Cheika as NSW head coach next year. Photo: Brendan Esposito

Former All Black Daryl Gibson has declared his ambition to coach the Waratahs next year as the reigning champions prepare to host two-time winners the Chiefs in a trial match on Friday.

Michael Cheika is balancing the Waratahs and Wallabies head coaching roles after taking over from Ewen McKenzie at short notice last year but will leave the NSW franchise to concentrate on the national team as soon as the Super Rugby season ends.

The Waratahs Rugby board has only recently been given the go-ahead to recruit Cheika’s replacement, and hope to have the process finalised within a month, chairman Roger Davis told Fairfax Media last week.

Gibson is Cheika’s anointed successor. The former Crusaders and Maori All Blacks assistant, who played 19 Tests at centre for New Zealand, confirmed he had told the board he was interested in the head coaching role.

“It’s a natural evolution for me, I’ve been an assistant for seven years and I believe I’m ready to lead,” Gibson said.

“It would be a privilege to take over here, Cheik has created an excellent environment and one that I want to be a part of in the future.”

Gibson has played an influential role in the coaching triumvirate at NSW with Cheika and defence coach Nathan Grey. Gibson’s innovative coaching was pivotal to the success of the Waratahs’ back line during the past two seasons, overseeing Kurtley Beale’s move to the mid-field as a second playmaker outside No.10 Bernard Foley, Rob Horne’s conversion from outside centre to winger and Israel Folau’s game-breaking development at fullback. His patient and calculating style was also a useful foil to Cheika and Grey’s more abrasive temperaments.

The squad are preparing for their final trial match against the 2012 and 2013 title-winning Chiefs before their regular season kicks off with a Sunday afternoon match against last year’s big improvers the Force on February 15.

There is still some doubt over whether the anticipated showdown will happen between the sides’ dual internationals Folau and Sonny Bill Williams, who is fresh from a successful return to the boxing ring on Saturday. Williams said he was desperate to play some rugby, but Chiefs coach Dave Rennie is likely to defer to the New Zealand Rugby Union’s wishes around the use of Test players in a World Cup year.

“Certainly I’d imagine Dave is anxious to get [Williams] going,” Gibson said.  “He brings a lot of success through his professionalism and the way he plays, so I’d imagine he’d want his influence there pretty quickly.”

It will be a final chance for Waratahs players to vie for their place in the pecking order in the contested positions of wing, second row and hooker. “Competition is key to trying to win again, it is critical that the Wallabies don’t come in and get a free ride,” Gibson said. “They’re always looking over their shoulder worried about their spot.”

League convert Taqele Naiyarovoro has the inside running on the wing spot vacated by Alofa Alofa, with Peter Betham not expected to be declared fully fit until round one and Rob Horne all but certain to retain his spot.

In the forwards, the Waratahs need a workhorse replacement for second rower Kane Douglas, while young hookers Tolu Latu, Hugh Roach and Manly Marlins breakout Dave Parecki are being encouraged to challenge Test veteran Tatafu Polota-Nau for starting honours this season. Gibson said ex-Warriors forward Sam Lousi exceeded expectations in his first run against Sydney club sides at the weekend, while Jed Holloway had also put his hand up for a place in the second row.

The Chiefs and Waratahs have not met since their thrilling round-16 clash in New Plymouth last year, a 33-17 victory for the Waratahs that gave them crucial momentum leading into the play-offs.

Dave Rennie’s squad did not make it past the Brumbies in the first qualifying final but looked fitter than ever in a trial clash with the Blues on the weekend. “They’ll play a really high-octane game which will be great for us,” Gibson said.  “We need a really strong hit-out mainly because of the integration with our Wallaby players returning, we have to make sure they’re not too underdone going into the game against the Force. The Chiefs have set the benchmark around how hard they work and they’re a team we really respect around that.”

Daniel Ricciardo upbeat about improvements

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

REACHABLE GOAL: Daniel Ricciardo expects 2014 champions Mercedes will be the team to beat in Melbourne, but says he is not intimidated by them.HE doesn’t want to give too much away, but formula one star Daniel Ricciardo reckons his new car is an improvement on last year’s three-time race winner.

The Australian was encouraged after day one of pre-season testing at Jerez in Spain on Sunday, despite mechanical issues restricting him to just 35 laps.

He was fourth fastest behind former Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel, who put Ferrari top of the timesheets after 60 laps.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson (73 laps) was second quickest, ahead of Nico Rosberg of Mercedes (157 laps).

“I think, in general, everything is behaving as it should,” Ricciardo said.

“Obviously we had some issues here and there, but once the car’s running it seems pretty normal. So a good day one and obviously keep improving from here.”

The Renault-powered RB11 – in black and white camouflage livery – managed more mileage in one day than across all of last year’s pre-season testing, and that had Ricciardo upbeat.

“I can’t give too much away but we understand what we’re running here and I think it’s good,” he said.

“We still need to refine a few things with drive-ability – normal things for the start of the year – but generally I think it’s what we expected.

“It’s still too early to say [if it’s a step forward] but I think it is.

“We’ll see in Melbourne when everyone’s even, but for now after the first day I think there’s some positive signs.”

Ricciardo said it was no surprise 2014 champions Mercedes were among the fastest out of the garage and managed more than double the number of laps than any other team.

“They obviously came out with a pretty awesome package last year and they’re probably just refining and perfecting that even more this year,” he said.

“I expect them again to be the ones to beat coming into Melbourne.

“But I’m not intimidated either. I think it’s a reachable target for us.”

The 2015 F1 season begins with the Australian Grand Prix on March 15 at Albert Park in Melbourne. AAP

Djokovic denies faking illness against Murray in Open final

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

WINNER: Novak Djokovic in Melbourne on Monday after winning the Australian Open final on Sunday. Picture: ReutersNOVAK Djokovic insists there was no play-acting, just more “cat and mouse” tennis, in his latest Australian Open final triumph over perennial runner-up Andy Murray.

As he savoured a record-breaking fifth Open success, Djokovic dismissed suggestions he was feigning physical problems before putting Murray to the sword in an Open final for the third time.

After trailing by a break and looking wobbly on his feet early in the pivotal third set, the world No.1 summoned the strength to win 12 of the last 13 games for a 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-0 victory.

But rather than be allowed to celebrate his eighth grand slam title win, a feat that elevated the 27-year-old alongside greats Andre Agassi, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors, Ken Rosewall and Fred Perry on the all-time majors leaderboard, Djokovic was peppered in his post-match press conference with questions about his physical issues.

On several occasions, the Serb clumsily lost his footing and balance and was often left gasping for air during the sapping encounter.

When he lamely dropped serve to fall behind 2-0 in the third set, the top seed looked down and out.

Djokovic, though, insisted his troubles were legitimate and flatly dismissed suggestions of any gamesmanship.

Tellingly, the first two brutal sets featured more than 60 rallies of nine shots or more.

“I think everybody predicted it was going to be a big battle,” Djokovic said.

“Very similar match to the Australian Open final in 2013 when we played over two hours [for] the first two sets . . . very physical, very exhausting.

“It’s normal to expect that you can’t always be at your 100 per cent, so you go through some particular moments that you can call crises during matches like these.

“This is what I had in these 15, 20 minutes. After that I felt better. I just felt very exhausted and I needed some time to regroup and recharge and get back on track. That’s what I’ve done.”

Murray admitted he should never have been distracted by his opponent’s woes and needed to learn from his latest Melbourne Park despair, his fourth in four Australian Open finals.

“It was a cat-and-mouse fight. It always is,” Djokovic said.

“We always try to outplay the opponents with the groundstrokes, with the long rallies, a lot of variety in the games: spin, flat, slice, drop shots. I think we both went out with the full repertoire of the shots we have. I hope everybody that watched it enjoyed the finals.

“From my side, it was definitely very exhausting. In winning those matches, you need to be able to find that inner strength – mental, physical, emotional, especially when you’re down in the finals and when you’re playing a top rival.

“There’s a lot of things that can influence your state of mind.

“The willpower that I had on the court today took me to where I am now.” AAP

Big business calls on Abbott government to dump 1.5 per cent levy

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

Calls for Abbott to drop 1.5% levy: ACCI chief executive Kate Carnell. Photo: Alex EllinghausenBig business groups are calling on the Abbott government to dump its controversial 1.5 per cent paid parental leave levy after Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirmed he was scaling back his policy.

But the Prime Minister’s office will not confirm if its PPL levy will be dumped, saying only that big businesses will be “no worse off” under a revamped policy that focuses on childcare.

In a highly-anticipated speech at the National Press Club on Monday, Mr Abbott confirmed that his controversial PPL scheme was now “off the table”, saying the time was not right to introduce the policy now and it would be scaled back and absorbed into a new families’ package.

But he would not say if the 1.5 per cent paid parental leave levy – that would be paid by 3000 of Australia’s biggest businesses – would also be scrapped.

Now the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Australian Industry Group, and the Australian Mines and Metals Association, are calling on the government to ditch the 1.5 per cent levy too, saying they should not have to pay it if the PPL is not going ahead.

“It’s our view that the Prime Minister said that the PPL would be ditched, and that means the 1.5 per cent levy should be ditched as well,” said Kate Carnell, ACCI chief executive.

“We would be pretty horrified if that wasn’t the case,” Ms Carnell said.

A spokesman for the Business Council of Australia said he would like the government to “confirm that it will no longer be implementing the levy”.

Chief executive of the Australian Industry Group Innes Willox said it was “critical” that the government confirmed that the “PPL levy … will also be scrapped,” because “this would allow a full realisation of the benefits of promised reductions in the company tax rate”.

Despite its long-term opposition to Mr Abbott’s $5.5 billion paid parental leave scheme, Labor slammed the Prime Minister’s announcement that it was ditching the PPL, arguing he had broken a promise to voters.

“There are Australian families, women who are pregnant right now, expecting this parent parental leave scheme to be introduced on July 1,” Labor families spokeswoman Jenny Macklin said.

Childhood groups welcomed Mr Abbott’s move to axe his “signature” paid parental leave scheme in favour of funding for childcare.

“The priority should be on affordable, high-quality early childhood education … which will amplify children’s development over the long term,” Early Childhood Australia chief executive Samantha Page said.

David O’Bryne, national secretary, United Voice, said Mr Abbott’s announcement has left educators, families and the childcare sector in limbo because it provided no detail about “when, where and how” any paid parental leave money would be paid to support early childhood education and care.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said paid parental leave was an “adequate scheme that seems to be working reasonably well”.

But given budget constraints, she said other policies related to child care were also welcome.

“I think we’re in a situation now where the affordability of it [PPL] is in question, and any spare money may well be directed into child care and I am not against that,” she said on Monday at a Finsia’s Male Champions of Change event in Melbourne where chief executivesgathered to discuss gender diversity issues.

“The fact is the cost of child care for many women is still prohibitive and we know that child care is an important impetus to lifting workforce participation,” she said.

“Both parental leave and child care are important structural agents for lifting women’s workforce participation in the nation …but if pregnant women and new parents are not welcome in the organisations of Australia through discrimination, none of the other two matter.”

Goldman Sachs chief Simon Rothery said he was supportive of the 1.5 per cent levy on big business remaining if it was going to fund spending on child care.

“We have all, at male champions, been very much in favour of review of the system and of course we’d like the money stay in the system,” he said.

“The real issue is in the middle level [of the workforce lacking women] and it all comes down to two things – flexibility and child care. I cannot speak on behalf of business but personally I would (be support of the levy remaining to find spending on child care initiatives).”

Gender on Ian Narev’s agenda: CBA boss fighting for diversity

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

The Champions of Change: (from left) ANZ CEO Mike Smith, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO Ian Narev, Non Executive Director of the Reserve Bank of Australia Kathryn Fagg, Goldman Sachs Australia CEO Simon Rothery. Photo: Arsineh HouspianThe chief executive of Commonwealth Bank Ian Narev has sent an email to his 54,000 staff imploring them think about how the big four bank can work harder to meet its gender diversity targets. after just missing out on last year’s.

Mr Narev said five years ago the bank set a target to have 35 per cent of middle management roles filled by women by 2014.

“My weekly note that’s gone out to all staff today [on Monday] said, ‘we didn’t make the target, here’s how we need to think about now putting our heads together and going for the target’,” Mr Narev said during a Finsia’s Male Champions of Change event in Melbourne where CEOs gathered to discuss gender diversity issues.

“At the time [in 2010] it was 26 per cent. We got to 33.4 per cent. It was up by 8 per cent, great, but it was below the target.”

Mr Narev who is also one of the Male Champions of Change – a program where male chief executives of Australia’s biggest companies promote the diversity cause publicly, as well as within their own organisations – said it was crucial progress was measured – whether through quotas or targets.

“We’re being seen publicly to be champions of this so we better have our organisations right,” he said.

“Nobody is exaggerating their own success. …Everyone is sharing a frustration at the slow pace of change….The challenge as a leader is the balance between saying, ‘it’s going to take a long time, celebrate progress as it happens’, versus also saying, ‘we’re just not making good enough progress’.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in the Male Champions of Change who thinks in his own organisation, or indeed all of us collectively, are yet happy about the rate of progress.”

Mr Narev said as well as measuring progress on workplace equality, female and male staff must be encouraged to work flexibly if and when they need to. He said often  it was easier for CEOs to work flexibly, but their staff were hesitant.

“When you are in a very senior executive role flexibility, oddly, becomes quite easy,” Mr Narev said.

“If you are thinking ahead with your calendar and things are going ok in the business – you’ve got tens of thousands of people running it better than you can – so if you have to be at your child’s school assembly at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, you’ve got a few weeks notice and you can make it happen. And no one’s asking where you are. Which means you start saying to people, ‘gosh well, it’s that easy why don’t you do it’. And they quite rightly say, ‘it’s easier for you than it is for us’.

“A lot of the difficulty of this [issue of] flexibility is people understanding they have more degrees of flexibility than they currently have.”

Also speaking at the event was ANZ CEO Mike Smith. He said the bank had been trying to get more of its senior women to talk to media about business issues, because often they were more modest than men about their abilities.

“Men bullshit their way through things, women tend to be honest about their experiences,” Mr Smith said. “And it’s important that they get out there and represent the businesses they partake in.”

Goldman Sachs chief Simon Rothery said they were also working to move more women into the top tiers by measuring it. “It’s not a business priority if we don’t measure it,” he said.

Mr Rothery said they had achieved an even split of male and female graduates, and encouraged more women into executive ranks, but “we still have a big problem in the middle”.

“Only 35 per cent of our workforce in Australia is female,” he said. “That’s up from 26 per cent in the past three years.”

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said it was crucial companies and their leaders worked on intentionally and actively promoting more women across their organisations, otherwise the male-dominated system would unintentionally exclude women.

DVD REVIEW: Before I Go To Sleep, Gone Girl, The Hundred Foot Journey

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

CAPTIVATING: Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth in the film Before I Go To Sleep.Universal Sony, 88 minutes

NICOLE Kidman is a hit-and-miss movie star. When she’s bad, you usually blame the script – it’s too stilted, the character doesn’t fit the role, the lines are unnatural. But when she’s good, she owns the screen.

In this role, we enjoy the best side of Kidman in the role of Christine, a confused, suspicious housewife who is trying to figure out how she became a clueless captive in her own home.

We open to her rising from bed in the morning, seeing pictures of her life in a collage on the wall – happy days, wedding etc – and having her husband Ben (Colin Firth) explaining how she wakes every day with no memory of her past.

We are quickly introduced to an interloper, Dr Nasch, a neuropsychologist played by Ben Strong, who is attempting to help her regain her memory, and life.

And thus begins an intriguing thriller, as Kidman pieces together the elements – who attacked her and nearly killed her, and why? Who was she? Who did she love? Who can she trust?

Colin Firth is a natural in such roles. He’s the stand-up guy, but not necessarily the good guy. And he’s a good match for Kidman.

Rating: ★★★

– Jim Kellar

20th Century Fox, 145 minutes

GILLIAN Flynn’s 2012 novel Gone Girl was one of those rare books with something for everyone: both an ingenious thriller (the plot is worthy of Wilkie Collins) and an up-to-date satire on the battle of the sexes, sparing neither male smugness nor pseudo-feminist sanctimony.

Though Flynn’s prose may be more smart-alecky than witty, her sharpest jibes cut deep, as in the legendary passage dissecting the male fantasy of the “Cool Girl” – the kind of chilled-out hottie who maintains her ultra-feminine appeal while cursing and guzzling hot dogs like one of the guys.

Clearly Gone Girl was always going to be a movie, whatever challenges for the would-be adaptor might be posed by its convoluted dual-narrator structure. In the event, the very capable script was written by Flynn herself, presumably with input from director David Fincher, one of the most distinctive artistic personalities in today’s Hollywood.

Like every other ambitious American male filmmaker of a certain age, Fincher wants to be Stanley Kubrick, which is to say both an uncompromising artist and a showman capable of reaching the widest public. In Fincher’s case, this often means snapping up the rights to racy bestsellers – Fight Club and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – which he can film with outward fidelity while pursuing more secretive aesthetic goals.

In a phrase, Gone Girl could be summed up as a film about image management, a central concern for characters and filmmaker alike. The protagonists – both sometime media professionals – are “types” who recognise themselves as such: Nick Elliott (Ben Affleck) is the regular guy who woos and wins golden girl Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike), then takes her back to his Missouri home town, where their marriage falls apart. When she vanishes one morning, Nick becomes a suspect in her murder – and as viewers, we’re given no guarantees about whom we should believe, though entries from Amy’s diary, dramatised in flashback, fill in some of the puzzle pieces.

Fincher’s style has changed little since Zodiac, now identifiable as his first “mature” film: tungsten lighting, limited camera movement, a sharp eye and ear for significant detail, and a funereal tone offset by fleet editing that compels us to pay attention or risk missing a clue.

Thematically, the film can be seen as a sequel to Fincher’s Facebook origin story The Social Network, engaging rather more directly with the contemporary reality of social media. Once news of the disappearance goes public, TV pundits and everyday folk are equally quick to take sides – Team Amy or Team Nick? – even as the viewer is made to suspect that both parties have plenty to hide.

As narrators of the book, Nick and Amy address the reader directly, commenting on the distance between their public and private selves. While Fincher can’t replicate this effect on film, he achieves an equivalent kind of irony simply by putting the naturally smarmy Affleck in a role that capitalises on the unbelievability of his good-guy screen persona. Other instances of stunt casting include Tyler Perry as a purring defence attorney and Neil Patrick Harris as the kind of well-spoken nutcase John Lithgow used to play for Brian de Palma.

It’s interesting to wonder how the balance of Gone Girl might have shifted if the female lead were played by an established star such as Reese Witherspoon, one of the film’s producers, or even Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy), whose refusal to be “Cool Girl” has defined her career. But Fincher is pursuing a very specific strategy in his choice of Pike, who’s less of a known quantity.

With a fraction of Affleck’s screen time, Pike has a much trickier role: she has to be poised and opaque, calm but with hints of treacherous depths. Floating through the narrative like a ghost, she embodies the aloofness that is both the film’s strength and its weakness. Fincher is not interested in the cliche of the glamorous femme fatale – but nor can he summon any trace of the romantic-comedy warmth that would give us an emotional investment in Nick and Amy’s relationship.

Rating: ★★★

– Jake Wilson

FEEL-GOOD FILM: Helen Mirren stars as Madame Mallory, the chef proprietress of a classical Michelin-starred French restaurant, in The Hundred-Foot Journey.

Buena Vista, 122 minutes

LASSE Hallstrom has created another French pastoral fairyland, much like the one he designed in 2000 for his hit adaptation of Joanne Harris’s Chocolat. And again he’s telling a story about the healing powers of good cooking.

It’s a well-stocked genre. Devotees make up lists which invariably include Babette’s Feast and Eat Drink Man Woman, and sceptics dismiss it all as “food porn”.

Hallstrom is a devotee of the feelgood movie. He makes all sorts. At his best, he can turn out something like Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, distinguished by a great cast displaying a flair for handling light, dry dialogue. At his worst, he resorts to Nicholas Sparks adaptations.

The Hundred-Foot Journey is at the Salmon Fishing end of the range. For one thing, it stars Helen Mirren, who has enough backbone to stop anything turning to mush, and as her sparring partner, she has Indian cinema’s veteran strongman Om Puri.

They play rival restaurateurs in a tiny French village in an idyllic stretch of the Midi-Pyrenees, where Mirren’s Madame Mallory has been running her establishment, Le Saule Pleureur, along classic French lines for decades. It’s housed in an elegant 19th-century manor house and has a Michelin star. Naturally, she isn’t pleased when the Kadams, who have been forced to uproot themselves from Mumbai, buy a disused farmhouse opposite her and open Maison Mumbai. While its neon lights and pulsing Bollywood music are bad enough, its kitchen aromas immediately go to war with the delicate scent of her “pigeon aux truffes”.

It’s a stand-off until the Kadams’ son and chef, Hassan (Manish Dayal), begins to take an interest in French cuisine while developing a crush on Madame Mallory’s sous chef, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon).

The script is adapted from Richard C. Morais’ bestselling novel by Steven Knight, whose earlier engagements with multiculturalism have had a much harder edge (Dirty Pretty Things; Eastern Promises). Here, he sets a much more leisurely pace. Or maybe it’s Hallstrom’s fondness for loitering in slow-mo over each culinary creation, but it’s a slow-going film and often makes a meal out of stating the obvious.

But Mirren and the exuberant Puri extract nice comic moments from their sedate explorations of the theory that opposites attract, and Le Bon and the equally beautiful Dayal make beguiling lovers.

As usual, Hallstrom does send you home feeling good, but you may experience a strong urge to doze off at the 50-foot mark.

Rating: ★★★

– Sandra Hall

The winners of the Sin City: A Dame to Kill For DVDs are: B. Anderson, of Lambton; L. Roach, of Windale; B. Dunkley, of North Lambton; E. Rentell, of Charlestown; and D. Threlfall, of Floraville.

Malcolm Turnbull: The $100m man who would be PM

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

Change: Malcolm Turnbull has mellowed, says one supporter.Most polling shows that among voters, particularly swinging voters, Malcolm is the man in the middle, the man that they would prefer as prime minister. No matter that he is the richest man in the Australian parliament, worth upwards of $100 million and lives in Point Piper, one of the wealthiest suburbs in Sydney.

The Herald’s IPSOS poll in November showed him as preferred Liberal leader among 35 per cent of those polled, well ahead of Prime Minister Tony Abbott on 20 per cent and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, also on 20 per cent.

But that appeal to the broader electorate, one of his key assets, is also a potential negative in clinching the leadership. Turnbull still faces the challenge of convincing colleagues he should be given a second chance to lead the Coalition – this time as Prime Minister. It’s not entirely a matter of personality, though Turnbull’s intellectual arrogance first time around alienated colleagues.

The bigger issue within the party room is whether conservatives believe Turnbull will listen to and reflect the views of the entire party when he personally sits well to the left of the spectrum in the Liberal Party.

“Malcolm, Joe Hockey and even Tony didn’t know in their early years whether they wanted to join the Liberal or the Labor party. For some of us, who’ve been handing out how to votes next to our parents since we were 15 or 16, that’s pretty worrying,” said one long-time party member. “It’s about understanding the culture of our party, and being able to listen to all views and accommodate them.”

On economics at least, Turnbull is well-credentialled and would likely have the confidence of the business community. His curriculum vitae includes a period as adviser to Kerry Packer, time at the bar, head of Goldman Sachs, and success as an investor in tech businesses.

Early on in his parliamentary career Turnbull tried to demonstrate his prowess as an economic thinker, producing a paper on tax reform. But this effort brought about the first real clash with colleagues, deeply angering the then treasurer, Peter Costello.

But there are other issues where Turnbull is decidedly at the left end of the party. As chair of the Australian Republican movement from 1993 to 2000 he went head to head with monarchists, who are well represented in the right of Liberal party.

He is a supporter of gay marriage and in 2013 went public to declare Australia out of step with most western democracies. He advocates conscience vote on the issue, something Abbott has so far refused, even though a Crosby Textor poll in July last year revealed 72 per cent support marriage equality.

And on the issue of this century, climate change, Turnbull proved to be out of step with a slim majority in his party. As Opposition leader he reached a compromise on an emissions trading scheme with Labor Primer MInister, Kevin Rudd, but could not find support within his own party room. It prompted a leadership spill, and the party installed the more sceptical Tony Abbott, who as prime minister, has reversed Labor’s tax on carbon emissions.

In 2010 he publicly floated the idea of quitting politics but was convinced by John Howard to stay.

So has Turnbull changed?

“Yes, he’s mellowed,” says one supporter.

“He’s not the first to struggle with the transition from business where you can surround yourself with high achievers who either get on board or get out. In politics, you find yourself with all kinds of bedfellows and you have to love them all,” he says.

As for Turnbull’s intolerance of those less able: “He’s overcoming it,” says the supporter.

There has also been subtle generational change within the Liberal Party room since 2010. Turnbull’s nemesis on climate change, Nick Minchin, has retired, and younger blood has come in. Self-interest is also strong motivator. If the polls are an indication, Turnbull as leader would be Labor’s worst nightmare.

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Anita Cobby memorial: ‘This is what stopping violence towards women is about’

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

Remembered: Kathryn Szyszka is comforted by her husband Walter Szyska after speaking at the first community memorial service for her sister, Anita Cobby. Photo: Gene RamirezTwenty-nine years ago, on a warm summer’s evening after dinner out with friends, Anita Cobby’s life ended in unimaginable horror.

Robbed, abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered in her home suburb of Blacktown, the Sydney Hospital nurse’s senseless death became “a defining part of our nation’s criminal history”.

On Monday morning, nearly three decades on, a crowd of 300 gathered in Minchinbury to remember the 26-year-old whose brutal end at the hands of five men came to shape state responses to victim support and violence towards women.

“The offenders’ intentions were to destroy and kill. Our intentions are the opposite,” said retired Chief Inspector Gary Raymond, who worked on the case and led the service, the first public memorial for the victim.

Honouring his promise to Ms Cobby’s father, the late Garry Lynch, to keep his daughter’s memory alive, the service was the first since the death of her mother, Grace Lynch, last year.

Ms Cobby was abducted on February 2, 1986, while walking home from Blacktown train station. She was taken to nearby Prospect, where she was raped and murdered.

Five men were sentenced to life imprisonment for her murder, never to be released.

At Ms Cobby’s memorial on Monday, a candle-lighting ceremony, a butterfly ceremony and a rendition of the Eurythmics’ Miracle of Love ensured the mood was focused on the triumph of good over evil and, in the spirit of her parents, in community strength.

It was the tireless work of Mr and Mrs Lynch that saw the eventual foundation of the Homicide Victim’s Support Group.

Julia Sheppard, author of Someone Else’s Daughter, the life and death of Anita Cobby, said the murder prompted a public outcry unlike any other.

“She’s become a defining part of our nation’s criminal history … It united the community in a way that hadn’t been seen in modern times,” she said.

In the congregation were leader of the opposition Luke Foley, his predecessor John Robertson and scores of members of the NSW police force, including those from the team who worked on the case at the time. Also in the crowd were Peter Simpson, father of murdered nine-year-old, Ebony, and the parents of murdered policeman Bryson Anderson.

Kathryn Szyszka, Ms Cobby’s younger sister, told the crowd that it was not a day to dwell on negativity but, instead, to highlight the plight of the no violence towards women and White Ribbon campaigns.

Her voice breaking as she spoke of her sister’s unanswered cries for help all those years ago, she echoed her parent’s words: “That must never happen again.”

She told Fairfax Media that the day was “overwhelming but beautiful” and that the support was as vital as ever.

“It’s such an important thing, it’s very apparent the good things that are happening and continue to happen to her memory – it’s what keeps us going.”

Federal MP for Greenway Michelle Rowland was a teenager at the time and used Blacktown station, where Ms Cobby was abducted, twice daily on her journeys to and from school.

“I remember it vividly – it was so foreign to us, we were scared,” she said after the service. “It was an abomination. These are ordinary people – we need to remember this is what stopping violence towards women is about.”

Building waste dumped on bush tracknear Freemans Drive, Cooranbong

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

Building waste dumped on bush track HAZARDOUS: The asbestos is believed to have been dumped in the bush by a contractor trying to avoid tip fees. Picture: Peter Stoop.

HAZARDOUS: The asbestos is believed to have been dumped in the bush by a contractor trying to avoid tip fees. Picture: Peter Stoop.

HAZARDOUS: The asbestos is believed to have been dumped in the bush by a contractor trying to avoid tip fees. Picture: Peter Stoop.

HAZARDOUS: The asbestos is believed to have been dumped in the bush by a contractor trying to avoid tip fees. Picture: Peter Stoop.

HAZARDOUS: The asbestos is believed to have been dumped in the bush by a contractor trying to avoid tip fees. Picture: Peter Stoop.

HAZARDOUS: The asbestos is believed to have been dumped in the bush by a contractor trying to avoid tip fees. Picture: Peter Stoop.

TweetFacebookENOUGH building sheeting to build a shed lies exposed to the elements at an illegal dump site a couple of hundred metres down a bush track off Freemans Drive, Cooranbong.

The track, a stone’s throw from the M1 motorway, is also littered with assorted building waste, garden waste and electrical goods.

There are dozens of such sites scattered throughout the Lower Hunter’s bushland that are a blight on the environment.

The discovery of a similar site at Tarro last week sparked outrage on social media.

The discardedsheeting at the Cooranbong appears to have been dumped by a professional contractor seeking to avoid tip fees.

A Lake Macquarie spokeswoman said the sheeting wastewas not present when council officers inspected the area in December 2014.

Twenty tyres were removed from the area in January.

‘‘Illegal dumping is a problem that Lake Macquarie City Council has been working hard to stamp out for many years – and we are not alone,’’ she said.

‘‘Illegal dumping costs the Hunter region’s ratepayers more than $2 million each year. It not only reduces available council resources and can be a threat to human health, it also causes environmental damage that can have lasting effects into the future.’’

Lake Macquarie has joined forces with the Environment Protection Authority, Wyong, Cessnock, Gosford, Upper Hunter, Maitland, Dungog, Newcastle, Muswellbrook and Singleton councils to create the a Regional Illegal Dumping Squad.

The introduction of a regional approach to aims to reduce the number of illegal dumping incidents in the region and improve enforcement.

‘‘The most successful prosecutions of illegal dumping result from community reports of dumpings, either vehicle registration details or individuals sighted dumping,’’ the spokeswoman said.

An Environment Protection Authority spokeswoman it would investigate the building waste discovery at Cooranbong in conjunction with Lake Macquarie Council.

Anyone who is aware of illegally dumped material, especially when it is hazardous, should contact the EPA Environment line on 131 555 The Environment line operates 24 hours a day seven days a week.

NSW gives green light to two big coal mine expansions

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

Coal mine extensions near Mudgee and Muswellbrook get the green light. Photo: Peter Braig Coal mine extensions near Mudgee and Muswellbrook get the green light. Photo: Peter Braig

Coal mine extensions near Mudgee and Muswellbrook get the green light. Photo: Peter Braig

Coal mine extensions near Mudgee and Muswellbrook get the green light. Photo: Peter Braig

The NSW Planning Assessment Commission has given conditional approval for large extensions of two coal mines north-west of Sydney, adding potentially 31 million tonnes of extra coal output a year.

The PAC on Monday said it had approved the expansion of the Moolarben Coal Project north-east of Mudgee, potentially more than doubling approved annual output from the site’s mines to 28 million tonnes from 12 million tonnes. The partly open-cut expansion, running for 24 years, would have “significant economic benefits”, the commission said.

The expansion of the Moolarben mine, 80 per cent owned by YanCoal Australia, will result in 1534 hectares of land being cleared, 123 hectares of which are deemed to be endangered ecological communities. About 148 known Aboriginal sites are also likely to be directed affected, the commission said in its final report.

The report highlighted a natural sandstone feature in the region, known as The Drip, is near stage one of the mine approved by the previous Labor government. “The commission understands the tenure of The Drip will need to be appropriately secured prior to any expansion of mining into the areas approved” in the expansion, it said.

The other mine extension to win approval was Rio Tinto’s Bengalla Mine Continuation project, four kilometres west of Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley. The new project will result in an additional 15 million tonnes of coal a year for 24 years, the commission said.

The commission cited benefits outlined by Rio Tinto including state tax royalties of $778 million, federal royalties of $509 million and as many as 900 jobs.

“The residual impacts of the project cover a wide spectrum, but relatively few of them are of major concern,” the commission said.

NSW Minerals Council chief executive, Stephen Galilee, welcomed the latest PAC approvals.

“The 362 mining workers and their families at Bengalla now have a certain future and up to 450 jobs at Moorlarben have been protected,” Mr Galilee said. “NSW has the most rigorous environmental compliance in Australia and these projects have been thoroughly assessed against that criteria.”

The two extension approvals follow last week’s nod from the commission for the new Shenhua Watermark coal mine near the Liverpool Plains. That mine has a total capacity of 268 million tonnes.

Greens mining spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said the NSW government had approved about 1.3 billion tonnes of new coal mine capacity since last September.

“The flurry of coal mine approvals is negligent and represents a suicidal approach to climate change,” Mr Buckingham said.

“Approving hundreds of millions of tonnes of new coal mining is globally significant and undermines efforts to avoid dangerous climate change,” he said, adding the Greens will take a policy to next month’s state election to phase out coal.

Fairfax Media sought comment from the NSW Minerals Council.