Jeweller death: fingerprints analysed, court hears

Dermot O’Toole, second from left, with his wife Bridget and sons Dale, Christian and Trent.Fingerprints on packaging that contained a knife that was used in the fatal stabbing of a Hastings jeweller are being analysed to determine if they belong to the man charged with his murder, a court has heard.
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Gavin Perry, 26, appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court court on Monday, charged with the murder of Dermot O’Toole, 64, who was allegedly stabbed for stock worth $200 at his shop, The Jewel Shed, on July 12.

Mr O’Toole’s wife of 41 years, Bridget, was also stabbed.

The court heard prosecutors were still waiting for the results of forensic testing, which included an analysis of fingerprints found on the packaging of a knife stolen from a nearby supermarket.

A blood sample from a nearby laneway, where Mr Perry was seen falling to the ground, was also analysed, the court heard.

As magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg went through the list of witnesses to be called at Mr Perry’s committal hearing, the court was told one witness had identified the accused man outside the shop, having met him the previous night.

Mrs O’Toole was one of six potential witnesses who would not have to give evidence at the committal, the court heard.

CCTV footage would be shown during the committal, the court was told.

Mr Perry, dressed in a green tracksuit in the dock, also faces charges of armed robbery and intentionally causing serious injury.

Members of Mr O’Toole’s family were in court for Monday’s proceedings.

Mr Perry was remanded in custody to appear again on March 24.

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Benefits of buying interstate

Thinking ahead: Ralph Nicholson at his home in Williamstown. Photo: Ken IrwinThere is no denying the residential property market is heating up as investors flood back in, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne. If your local area or state is getting more expensive, then perhaps it might be time to look interstate, at areas that are yet to become the next big thing.
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In fact, buying the current ”hot spot” is often a recipe for trouble as, if everybody already knows about it, the opportunities for growth have probably been exhausted.

The founder of property advice company Destiny Financial Solutions, Margaret Lomas, has 40 investment properties, many of which are interstate. She says buying interstate forces you to do more research about the property and area you are about to invest in. ”I think it’s a brilliant idea to buy interstate,” she says.

”It comes down to knowing how to ask the kind of questions that uncover the investment potential and growth drivers in an area.”

The problem with buying close to home, according to Lomas, is that we believe we know the area when we may not actually be as knowledgeable as we think. Interestingly, she also says seeing or inspecting a property is not always a good thing.

”I think actually looking at a property is dangerous, because it allows you to have an emotional buy-in,” Lomas says.

Property investor, journalist and author of Smart Property Investment Peter Cerexhe says that buying interstate can be a good idea, but that you need to be careful of when and how you do it.

”For a start, there is a well-known risk of buying property in haste while on holiday,” he says.

If you’re visiting a holiday town you might start to believe that property is cheap, just because it’s cheaper than home, which is probably a major capital city.

”A quick trip is potentially more dangerous than not going at all, if you are relying on the expertise of a reasonable professional,” he says.

Our case study Ralph, at left, relies on a network he has hooked into, via Destiny Financial Solutions, to inspect local properties that are not in his state of Victoria, but he doesn’t visit them himself.

Louis Christopher, managing director of property research company SQM Research, says you need to be careful of dodgy property promoters who are coming back into the market as it heats up. ”Whatever you do, don’t speak to property spruikers offering you free flights to the Gold Coast or whatever. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, the cost has got to go somewhere,” he says.

Different states also have different stamp duty structures and land tax, which you need to be aware of before you buy.

Capital gain potential

But the fundamentals for buying interstate and buying locally should not change. You need to find areas that have diversified industries, that is to say they do not rely on one sector such as tourism, councils with money to spend on infrastructure, growing household incomes and a growing population. ”You don’t want to be distracted just by the property,” Cerexhe says. ”The local economy is absolutely key.” And you should try to buy those areas before anyone else does.

You should also consider, like our case study Ralph, property structures that could appeal to the widest share of buyers, which in most cases are families.

All of the above might sound like a big ask, but it’s not impossible and you will end up with a much better investment than if you just jumped on the nearest property boom closest to you.Profile taken interstate

Ralph Nicholson is 53 and lives in Victoria, but four of his seven properties are outside that state. He has two in NSW and two in Queensland.

”I looked at my situation three years ago and I thought we may not have enough to survive comfortably,” he says.

His interstate property investment plan is therefore his retirement plan.

After one misstep buying in a bushfire prone area that took a long time to eventually sell, Ralph took it upon himself to get better educated and do more thorough research. ”As an investor you need confidence to buy in other markets, or else it’s a real risk and you’ve got to mitigate those risks by doing your research,” he says.

But he also values the local agent contacts he has found through his property investment adviser. ”I don’t think, even given the education, I would be confident buying in those areas unless I have those local contacts,” he says.

He buys properties that have the potential to appeal to the greatest market, which means residential houses for families with four bedrooms or at least three. ”I just try and buy garden-variety buildings, hopefully with enough land, because I place a fair degree of emphasis on land value.”

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Be realistic, vendors warned as selling season nears end

1028 Glenhuntly Road, Caulfield South, was sold under the hammer for $835,000. Photo: Ken IrwinProperty sellers are being warned to be realistic about the prices they can expect to achieve for their houses and flats with only five weeks left before the market closes for its summer hiatus.
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Melbourne turned in another solid set of results over the weekend with a few runaway successes, but some agents reported a shortage of bidders.

Melbourne’s clearance rate of 72 per cent over the weekend was derived from 925 auctions reported to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria; Australian Property Monitors (owned by Fairfax Media) reported a slightly higher 73 per cent from 692 results and research house RP Data produced a lower 69.2 per cent clearance rate from 996 results.

RP Data spokesman Robert Larocca said this was only the second weekend in 14 weeks with the clearance rate falling below 70 per cent.

”It’s too early to say the market’s pulling back but it certainly shows it’s not racing away from us,” Mr Larocca said.

Sydney had its biggest weekend of auctions with 784 properties under the hammer. APM reported an 84 per cent clearance rate.

The REIV data shows 124 properties sold before auction and 262 passed in – 142 of them on a vendor bid. A further 141 results have yet to be reported to the REIV.

While not a stellar performance, the market is much healthier than last year when a 59 per cent clearance rate was achieved on a weekend with 1100 auctions.

The solid results follow the Reserve Bank’s decision last week to keep the cash rate on hold for another month but there is some speculation that further cuts to the historic low rate of 2.5 per cent could occur next year in a bid to hold down the value of the dollar.

Some of the biggest deals of the weekend sold for close to their reserve prices. Kay & Burton’s Gowan Stubbings had the two biggest auctions in Toorak.

Just off Heyington Place, 3 Rostill Court fetched $3.02 million, only slightly over its $3 million reserve, with competition from two bidders. Mr Stubbings said the buyer planned to live in the house, which is on 692 square metres.

An hour later, he auctioned 21A Albany Road, a single-level three-bedroom townhouse. While the result is undisclosed, it is understood to have sold for $4.55 million after a single bid.

Mr Stubbings would not confirm the price but he emphasised how much time and effort went into educating vendors about the value of their properties. ”People have to be realistic about … valuing their homes. The buyer pool is big but vendors have to be realistic,” he said. ”We’ve really only got five weeks to go … there are buyers out there for pretty much everything so long as vendors meet the market.”

Williams Batters director Philippe Batters said: ”We find there are very, very good results but they aren’t happening all the time. I keep reading that we’re in a boom market; the trouble is, some vendors believe it.

”If a property is really good, people will fight for it. It doesn’t mean it’s really expensive, it just means it has special features,” Mr Batters said.

As summer is beckoning, the number of beach houses on the market has started to increase but the buyers are slow to arrive.

Prentice Real Estate agent Don Campbell put two properties from a deceased estate to auction on Saturday but the house at 19 Oxford Street, Sorrento, was passed in on a vendor bid of $500,000 and an adjoining block of vacant land was passed in, also on a vendor bid, at $450,000.

”Even in the current market, $450,000-$500,000 for a block of land in Sorrento is cheap, very cheap,” Mr Campbell said.

”Things down here are pretty slow. We’re not reflecting what’s going on uptown. Rye and Rosebud, the cheaper end of the market, are going well. But from Blairgowrie to Portsea, it’s very slow.

Kay & Burton had better luck in Flinders, where 14 Bass Street, a four-bedroom beach house with sea views, sold for $1.645 million.

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Get ready for Melbourne’s first Night Noodle Markets

1. Lantern Garden and food trucks 2. Rekordelig Cider Bar 3. Citi VIP area 4. Coopers Beer Garden 5. Yalumba Festival Garden 6. Tanqueray Gin Lounge. Illustration by Joe Benke. 1. Lantern Garden and food trucks 2. Rekordelig Cider Bar 3. Citi VIP area 4. Coopers Beer Garden 5. Yalumba Festival Garden 6. Tanqueray Gin Lounge. Photo: Illustration: Joe Benke
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Smoke and sizzle, steam and spice, cooks wrangling woks and hungry night-time hordes queuing at favourite open-air stalls. It’s a scene repeated all over Asia, from Shanghai to Chiang Mai, and from next Monday we’ll see it in Melbourne.

For two weeks, Alexandra Gardens, on the banks of the Yarra, will morph into street-food central as some of Melbourne’s best-loved Asian restaurants, cafes and food trucks gather nightly to dish out everything from pad Thai to pork buns, yakitori and yellow curry, amid the buzz of bars and DJs playing music under the stars.

Joanna Savill is festival director of Good Food Month, presented by Citi. Savill says the Night Noodle Markets are a celebration of spring and Australia’s Asian food culture. ”Australians love being outside. Asian street food is our go-to comfort fare. Add in music, entertainment, bars and chill-out areas and it’s a pretty infectious combination.”

The arrival of the markets in Melbourne follows their success in Sydney, where they have been a landmark annual event since the late 1990s. ”This year in Sydney we had 43 stalls, four bars and ran across 16 nights, drawing a crowd of 295,000 people – up to 35,000 on any given night,” says Savill.

Julian Lee, an owner of the hit Mamak Malaysian restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne, says the event has a ”fantastic vibe”. ”One of the reasons we decided to do it is because that’s where we started off – as a market stall.”

Theatre is a big part of street food and Mamak stalls will be no exception, with trademark freshly flipped roti stretched, folded and sizzled as patrons watch. ”Everything will be cooked on site,” says Lee.

Longrain, with hatted Thai restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne and a reputation for rigorous authenticity, is another Night Noodle Markets veteran. Co-owner Sam Christie says Longrain’s first Melbourne market menu will include dishes from Shortgrain, the group’s casual canteen-style venture in Sydney, which Christie says are good for market-style grazing. ”You might get a main from us, an entree from another stall … you’re there with friends, you compare dishes.”

The first Melbourne Night Noodle Markets will comprise about 30 stalls cooking street-food favourites from countries including Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, India, Japan and the Philippines.

City hotspot Chin Chin will be there, serving noodles (pad see ew), as well as pork-and-peanut curry, a Vietnamese-style slaw with prawns and its chilli-caramel popcorn. As at the restaurant, get there early or expect to queue.

Tiny laneway eatery Wonderbao was nominated late last year by The Age Good Food Under $30 editors as ”a cool new kid on the block” and one of Melbourne’s top 10 best eats under $10. Manager Shan Lin says bao – puffy steamed, filled buns – are a classic Asian street snack, easy to carry and eat, whether they’re the plump Chinese version or the fold-over Taiwanese type ”like an Asian taco”. The Wonderbao market stall will serve several different bao, including a vegetarian bao and roast pork belly; a version that comes with cucumber, pickled carrot, daikon, hoisin, and its own fan club.

Footscray West’s Aangan Indian Restaurant will serve assorted breads, roti with meat and vegetable stuffings, grilled kebabs and fried snacks. Richmond Vietnamese restaurants I Love Pho and Thanh Phong will bring a taste of Victoria Street to the markets, while the city’s Izakaya Den will be dishing out dude-ish Japanese eats, including fried chicken and the Hihou Dog – a variation on the hotdog. Hoy Pinoy will offer Filipino flavours, including the traditional sausage known as longganisa and pork belly glazed with one of the Philippines’ favourite condiments, banana ketchup.

For those infected with food-truck fever, there’s no need to rely on luck or Twitter to locate your next rolling repast. The Night Noodle Markets offer a chance to sample five in one spot, including Bean Rollin’, Let’s Do Yum Cha, the vibrant Vietnamese fare of Lil Nom Noms and (on most nights) the Banh Mi Boys, plus Taiwanese treats – maybe spring onion pancakes and sausage with pepper sauce – from Ghost Kitchen.

There’s more Taiwanese on offer from a stall by the city’s Mr Huang Jin, including steaming, soupy xiao long bao dumplings.

Gelato Messina will have a stall churning out gelati and sorbets in Asian-inspired flavours such as coconut, peanut, mango and pandan. Sexy sundaes will include the pun-tastic En-Thai-Sing with pandan-coconut sorbet, sticky rice, fresh mango and salted coconut cream.

”Australians enjoy eating outdoors,” says Longrain’s Sam Christie. ”I think people in Melbourne have embraced that even more than in Sydney. It’s about the atmosphere and company as well as the food.”

”Getting together with friends, seeing the food cooked in front of you, eating outdoors at night – it’s part of our culture,” says Mamak’s Julian Lee. ”It’s great to see people here embracing it.”

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THE LOWDOWN

Night Noodle Markets, November 18-30. Alexandra Gardens, 1 Boathouse Drive, Melbourne. Weekdays from 5pm, weekends from 4pm. Admission free.

Why top chefs like to eat on the street

The street and market food of Asia is fast, not fancy, made to be eaten with more gusto than ceremony. Not the kind of thing to impress top restaurateurs? Far from it. Here’s why four of Victoria’s most decorated owner-chefs love heading to a night-time Asian market.

Andrew McConnell has a clutch of acclaimed restaurants and The Age Good Food Guide chef’s hats, including two this year for Fitzroy fine diner Cutler & Co. McConnell’s first food market experience was in south Thailand in 1993; his best was a recent banh mi on a Hanoi street.

“Depending on your timing and location the freshness of the food is usually incredible. To this day, sweet salty sticky rice and coconut cream in Thailand has to be my favourite and I can never go past steamed vegetable dumplings or pan-fried dumplings in Shanghai.”

Teage Ezard, of two-hat Ezard in Flinders Lane, first tried Asian market food in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. “I ate late at night with a local who took care of our ordering. We ate a huge amount for next to nothing!”

Ezard, who also co-owns Gingerboy, loves the diversity hawker markets offer in a small area. Depending on where he’s travelling, his go-to Asian street dishes are chilli mud crab, the well-loved Thai pawpaw salad som tam and “sweet sticky black rice in bamboo”.

Michael Ryan, owner-chef at two-hat Provenance in Beechworth, is known for his love and knowledge of Japanese cooking and warmly recalls cold nights in Fukuoka, which many regard as Japan’s street food capital. But when it comes to hawker food, Ryan may have left his heart in Malaysia – specifically, Penang’s capital city. “Georgetown, you have Malaysian food, Chinese food, Indian food and that wonderful fusion of all of them, Nonya, all within walking distance.”

What he likes most about hawker food is “the sense of discovery – what is around the corner, at the next stall – being out of your comfort zone, the smells, the noise”.

Geoff Lindsay earned several chef’s hats while cooking at some of Melbourne’s most exciting restaurants. As owner-chef at Elwood’s one-hat Dandelion, he regularly visits Vietnam; when he touches down in Hanoi, his arrival treat is bun cha, grilled pork and noodles.

The best thing about the food of the markets and streets? “It is everyone’s food, the food of the people, you can be with a prince or a plumber and everyone eats with gusto.”

Banh mi, dumplings, som tam and bun cha are among the dishes at Melbourne’s Night Noodle Markets.On the menu

Aangan: Assorted Indian breads; roti rolls and wraps; kebabs; fried snacks.  Autorickshaw: Indian butter chicken and saffron rice; masala chai; aloo tiki chat; naan. Banh Mi Boys: Bun noodle salad, bangin’ banh mi baguette, blue cod ceviche.

Burwood Teppanyaki House: Yakitori (chicken/calamari/beef/prawn) skewers; okonomi-yaki; Japanese soft drinks.

Chin Chin: Pad see ew; tom yum poached prawns and Vietnamese coleslaw; pork and peanut curry; chilli-caramel popcorn.

Dumpling and Biriyani Rice Hut: Momo dumplings, free range chicken biriyani.

Dumplings Plus: Pan-fried, steamed and deep-fried dumplings.

Gelato Messina: Gelati, sorbets, and sundaes like Singapore Sling.

Ghost Kitchen: Spring onion pancake with optional egg, pork floss, or the lot; gua bao; Taiwanese sausage; salt-and-pepper chicken.

Grilled Calamari: Malaysian-Indonesian calamari skewers.

Hoy Pinoy: Barbecue chicken in traditional Filipino glaze; longganisa (skewered pork sausage); pork belly and banana ketchup glaze.

I Love Pho: Beef, chicken or vegetable pho; Vietnamese coleslaw, salads; lemongrass beef or pork buns; spring rolls/rice-paper rolls.

Izakaya Den: Den fried chicken; Hihou Dog; nama udon noodles with wagyu beef or tofu and wakame.

Le Bangkok: Pad Thai; pawpaw salad; fish cakes; deep-fried pork with sticky rice; golden crispy morning glory salad.

Let’s Do Yum Cha: Barbecue pork bun; pork or chicken dim sim; vegetarian dumpling; vegetarian spring roll; prawn and chive dumplings; prawn gow gee.

Lil Nom Noms: Steamed bao; banh mi slider; bun cha (rice noodle salad).

Longrain: Grilled chicken, rice noodles, coriander, yellow bean; hot-and-sour salad of pork and glass noodles, peanuts, mint and coriander; yellow curry of cauliflower, pumpkin, mustard greens and chilli

Mamak: Roti chanai; satay chicken; mee goreng.

Mini Pancakes: Mini pancakes; fresh young drinking coconuts; lemon-mint crush.

Mr Huang Jin: Pork and ginger steamed xiao long bao; pan-fried chicken and lemongrass dumplings; Taiwanese fried chicken.

Paperboy Kitchen: Chicken Vietnamese noodle salad; egg and smoked tomato noodle salad; grilled salmon noodle salad.

Pho Saigon Star: Hokkien noodle salad, Vietnamese pancakes, Viet skewers and salad.

Sambal Kampung: Fish fillet with spicy sauce; pan-fried dumplings; calamari with spicy sauce; pan-fried rice pudding.

Shallot Thai: Pad Thai; pad mee; pad see ew.

Serendipity Icecream: Assorted ice-creams.

Spanthai: Seafood saffron rice; chicken panang curry; chicken pad Thai; vegetable pad see ew; prawn fried rice; Hokkien noodles.

Thanh Phong: Vietnamese beef wrapped in betel leaf; rice-paper roll; salt squid; meatball skewers.

Wonderbao: Roast pork belly gua bao; choi bao; pork bao; chicken bao.

Drinks: There will be four bars pouring Coopers beer, Rekorderlig cider, Tanqueray gin and Yalumba wines. The only things to BYO are friends and an appetite.

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Peatsconvinced Arthur has what it takes

Nathan Peats: “We want to go well next year. It’s a big challenge.” Photo: SuppliedTwo of Parramatta’s most important signings acquainted themselves in Bali. New coach Brad Arthur and former South Sydney hooker Nathan Peats twice crossed paths at the popular holiday destination. They hit it off, which is a good thing given Peats had a get-out clause in his contract linked to the coach.
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While Peats never contemplated activating it, the 23-year-old was relieved to find they were on the same page well before the club’s first training session on a rain-soaked Richie Benaud Oval on Monday.

“He’s a good bloke with the same goals as what I have, we want to go well next year and not have another cellar-dweller kind of season,” Peats said.

“It’s a big challenge. Ricky [Stuart] was obviously the one who got me here. Those few weeks before the new coach got picked I was a bit nervous but I was never going to leave, my intentions were to stay.”

Day one of pre-season at the Eels and, everywhere you looked, there was someone with something to prove. For Peats, it’s the chance to become a starting hooker, a position he was never going to nail while playing behind Issac Luke at Redfern. Another former Rabbitoh, Chris Sandow, has one season left on his lucrative contract to prove that he has turned himself around and can do likewise for the wooden spooners.

And popular team member Ben Smith, initially earmarked as being among the “Parramatta punted”, was back for a 10th pre-season with the blue and golds.

But no man faces a bigger challenge than Arthur. A Parramatta junior, Arthur has enjoyed a rounded apprenticeship at powerhouses Melbourne and Manly, as well as a six-week caretaker stint as head coach at the Eels last year. He returns to a club unsettled on and off the field and tipped to earn a third consecutive wooden spoon.

In his favour is the bond he has already established with several senior players. Tim Mannah, for instance, would have been happy had Arthur been permanently installed after the club parted company with another Storm assistant, Stephen Kearney.

However, the captain believes Arthur’s subsequent experiences with grand finalists Manly will prove invaluable. “We know BA from when he was here a couple of years ago and we’re all stoked he’s coming back,” Mannah said.

Not all of Parramatta’s new faces were on hand. Will Hopoate is finishing up his Mormon missionary commitments, while Lee Mossop and Brenden Santi remain on World Cup duty.

Peats’ father, Geordi, a hooker for Souths and Canterbury, had no qualms about his son joining the Bulldogs’ arch rivals. “He’s sweet, as long as I’m happy, he’s happy,” Nathan Peats said.

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Toxic tackles taken down in new push

Last year it was the shoulder charge at the centre of NRL scrutiny; now the administration is set to tighten laws around the crusher and cannonball tackles before next year’s season.
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Following continuing discussions between NRL officials and the clubs over the off-season, the governing body’s head of football, Todd Greenberg, has flagged a crackdown on the two controversial tackling techniques.

While the finer details of any changes to the laws will need to be ratified by the competition committee and the ARL Commission – which will both meet next month – Greenberg revealed the third man in around the legs and the crusher tackle were seen as priorities by the clubs and the central body.

“There’s no doubt the two issues we’re looking at from our discussions with the coaches and the clubs are the cannonball and the crusher,” Greenberg said. “We’re looking at those things and we’re discussing those things. I think the crusher tackle in particular, we need to be really vigilant on that. Player welfare is at the top of our decision-making priorities. We’ve got to make sure that we continue to retain the fabric of the toughness of rugby league, but not at the detriment of the players. The crusher tackle is one of those we’re looking very closely at.”

It is believed the NRL will look at increasing the judiciary penalties for crusher tackles – whereby a defender places pressure on the ball-carrier’s head and neck using their upper body. Those who carry out dangerous cannonball tackles – spearing in at a player’s legs while he is held up by other defenders – can also expect to be punished more severely.

The NRL will not go as far as banning the third-man-in altogether as it would alter the fabric of the contest too significantly. But referees and the match review committee are likely to be especially harsh on players who attack the ball-carrier at the knee joint or below, and those who use excessive force and velocity.

Greenberg has spent much of the off-season travelling to NRL clubs, speaking with officials and coaching staff. So far he has visited 10 clubs and will meet with officials from the other six over the next fortnight.

“It’s been well worthwhile getting around to all the clubs,” he said. “That engagement has been really important, and they’ve been really clear on their views, which is great. That’s exactly how it should be.

“Between us and them . . . we went in with those [as our priorities] and they’ve been very supportive of us taking a stronger stance on crushers – the clubs and the coaches. And the third-man-in, people don’t want to see that in the game either. The NRL and the clubs . . . we’re very aligned on that.”

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Smith says complacency not a concern

Captain Cameron Smith doesn’t fear a tournament ambush despite the Kangaroos’ relatively easy successes so far.
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Having kept Fiji and Ireland tryless in back-to-back games, the Australians are preparing to play the US in what is expected to be another rout for the Kangaroos. But Smith said complacency wasn’t a concern.

“I think the staff have done a really good job with mixing up our weekly schedule with different types of training and last week they let us get to Dublin and have a couple of days there to look around and time to ourself, which was good,” Smith said. “A few of the guys’ partners are over at the moment, that’s a bit of a distraction as well.

“Every time we’ve hit the training paddock or we’ve been in a meeting watching vision on the opposition or in the gym the focus has been great, the intensity’s been great. We just need to keep that up.

“We know we’ve made the quarter-finals now, we’re coming into a quarter-final game against USA, who we haven’t seen too many of those blokes play. We’ll just approach it like we approach the first three games, with a simple game plan – a game plan we believe will help us come semi-final time.”

Australia fought from behind to win their opening pool game against England. That loss meant the English side will probably face New Zealand in the semi-finals, with the winner to face the Kangaroos.

Smith compared this Saturday’s (Sunday, midnight AEDT) game against the US as a similar proposition to their 50-0 romp against Ireland. “Without talking the USA down too much, I think it’ll be a lot similar to [the game against Ireland] but we have seen them play their first couple of games and they were pretty good,” Smith said.

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Animal may be behind road fatality

A NATIVE animal crossing the Batman Highway was behind a motorcyclist taking the evasive action that ultimately led to his death, police believe.
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The 76-year-old Launceston man was pronounced dead at the scene at Hillwood on Sunday morning.

Police believe the man had been riding behind two vehicles when the car furthest in front pulled up because of an animal crossing the highway.

The second vehicle, a four-wheel drive Suzuki, pulled over to the highway’s shoulder to avoid hitting the car in front. The rider is believed to have swerved to avoid hitting the first car but in doing so has come off his bike and slammed into the car’s rear.

The man’s bike has continued on and struck the back of the Suzuki, occupied by an interstate family including a young child.

Passing motorists stopped to provide first aid to the rider, who is yet to be identified by police, until paramedics arrived.

Tasmania Police Inspector Darren Hopkins said there were no plans to charge anyone at this stage, however, the investigation was still in its infancy.

Speed and alcohol were not believed to be factors in the collision which occurred about 11.30am a kilometre from the East Tamar Highway intersection on a clear and dry day.

The death has prompted police to urge motorists to remain aware of their surroundings at all times.

Tasmanian Motorcycle Council spokesman Paul Bullock said the state’s 26th road fatality was very sad.

“He is just an innocent that got caught up in something that turned out to be tragic,” Mr Bullock said.

“It was just something he could not get out of it appears.”

Mr Bullock called on Tasmanian motorcyclists to consider enrolling in the Motorcycle Road Skills Course.

The course is offered over one day and includes a segment on riding techniques, bike control and management.

The Motor Accident Insurance Board pays for $150 of the $200 program.

Police are requesting anyone who may have witnessed the collision to contact Northern District Crash Investigators on 6336 3936 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Police at the scene of the fatality on the Batman Highway.

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NSW gives green light to Packer casino at Barangaroo

Packer casino gets green light: Legislation to allow a second Sydney casino licence will be introduced to parliament this week. barangaroo
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Comment: Public sidelined in Packer winOpinions divided on new vision for tourismTimeline: How Crown won its thone

A casino is set to operate at Barangaroo from November 2019 after the state government announced an agreement with James Packer’s Crown Resorts for VIP-only gambling at its proposed $1.3 billion hotel complex.

Premier Barry O’Farrell announced cabinet had struck an agreement with Crown on Monday night and said legislation for a second Sydney casino licence would be introduced to parliament this week.

While the government has entered into a “binding agreement” with Crown to develop the “VIP restricted gaming facility” at Barangaroo, approvals are still needed before the project can proceed. The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority will need to consider if Mr Packer’s company Crown is a suitable casino operator and the proposed six-star hotel resort will need planning approval.

Mr O’Farrell said the public would be invited to comment on both.

Crown is unlikely to have difficulty proving to NSW authorities it is a fit and proper operator of gambling facilities having passed a probity test in May to increase its stake in rival Echo Entertainment, owner of the Star casino.

Indications are that the legislation is likely to pass the NSW upper house with the support of the government and the cross bench.

Labor may consider whether to support the legislation at its shadow cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

In a statement, Mr Packer said he was “humbled” by the government’s decision.

“Sydney is one of the world’s great cities,” he said. “It deserves one of the world’s great hotels. I am going to do everything I can to try and make Crown Sydney the best hotel in the world.”

He said Crown believed the development would “help attract Asian high net worth travellers to Sydney, in particular from China”.

Opposition Gaming and Tourism spokesman Steve Whan said while he had yet to see the legislation, the government appeared to have met the conditions set by Labor to receive its approval. They included no poker machines, no encroachment of public space and VIP membership restrictions.

Draft legislation reveals the government proposes to grant Crown a 99-year gaming licence to operate a casino without poker machines and minimum bet limits of $30 for baccarat, $20 for blackjack and $25 for roulette.

It states only “members and guests” are allowed to gamble at the Barangaroo casino.

Those from overseas or interstate must prove they are already VIP members of other casinos or participate in “high roller” gambling elsewhere.

NSW residents will be allowed to become members but will be subject to a 24-hour “cooling off” period unless they are already registered for VIP gambling at other casinos.

The conditions of the agreement include a guarantee from Crown that the casino will deliver at least $1 billion in licence fee and gambling taxes to the state over the first 15 years of “full operation”. The green light from cabinet comes more than a year after Mr Packer first revealed his desire for permission to run a casino to fund construction of his hotel resort at Barangaroo.

The NSW government has dealt with the project through its unsolicited proposals guidelines for unique development proposals from the private sector.

Last week Crown unveiled the latest proposal for its proposed 70-storey, six-star hotel resort at Barangaroo. They include plans for 30 luxury apartments, bars and restaurants at Barangaroo South.

Mr O’Farrell said the government supports the plans “because of its economic benefits to NSW” which included 1,200 extra jobs, the $1.3 billion investment in an “iconic” hotel and the additional gambling tax revenue.

However, the Greens MP John Kaye criticised the government’s unsolicited proposals process as “anything but transparent and open”.

“NSW will now have another casino with more corruption pressures, more money laundering from Asian drug and prostitution cartels and more opportunities for problem gamblers,” he said.

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DVD: We Steal Secrets: The Story Of Wikileaks 

DVD: WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS (M)
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Universal, 130minutes

Rating: ★★★

JULIAN Assange expressed his dislike of Alex Gibney’s documentary about the WikiLeaks phenomenon.

He refused to appear in it, he says, because of his conviction Gibney was going to produce ‘‘a pretty sleazy result’’.

Jemima Khan, who is Gibney’s executive producer as well as one of the supporters who posted bail for Assange after his London arrest, has a different slant on their failure to do business together.

‘‘Assange endlessly messed Alex around,’’ she said.

‘‘He wanted extensive editorial control and intel [intelligence] on the other interviewees, which I knew Alex would never agree to. In the end, it became increasingly difficult and negotiations broke down.’’

However the story went, the prickly arrogance Assange displays in interviews would have been an uneasy fit with Gibney’s style, which is about analysing rather than lionising, and the thoroughness with which he scrutinises the psychological make-up of his cast of characters.

Gibney specialises in the slow but inexorable build-up. We Steal Secrets is typical. The first 20minutes or so look like hagiography. Then the picture tilts, the light shifts and harsher outlines take shape.

It’s not only about Assange and the dynamics of the WikiLeaks set-up. These share centre stage with the even more tantalising figure of Bradley Manning, who has so far paid a much higher price than Assange for the sake of freedom of information.

Why did he turn whistleblower? Several of his fellow soldiers appear in the film, recalling a man made miserable by bullying, loneliness and his growing conviction he should have been born female. They all agree he should never have been given access to the encrypted files he released to WikiLeaks. But there is no denying the strength of his conviction, or the importance of what he did in leaking Collateral Murder, the notorious video of the botched Baghdad air strike that killed more than a dozen people in 2007, among them two Reuters journalists.

Gibney replays the footage – justifiably, for no amount of repetition can diminish the casual brutality of the US helicopter gunship crew’s banter as they pick off their victims as if taking out targets in a video game.

By the way, the film’s title, We Steal Secrets, does not refer to WikiLeaks’ modus operandi. The words are used by General Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA.

‘‘Let me be very candid,’’ he said.

‘‘We steal secrets. We steal other nations’ secrets. One cannot do that above board and be very successful for a very long period of time.’’

Of Assange’s Australian defenders, the staunchest are the academic Robert Manne and the journalist Mark Davis, who says he was worried by the need to protect the identities of people mentioned in the leaked documents and that he laboured long and hard in making these redactions. More caustic are The Guardian and The New York Times journalists who worked with Assange on the documents’ publication and are now completely at odds with him because of the stories they have published about the difficulties of collaborating with him.

Initially, Assange did not think it necessary to make the redactions, they say – hence the rush to get the job done when he finally changed his mind. The two Swedish women involved in the sex charges against him appear with their faces obscured to say they would never have gone to the police if he had agreed to take an HIV test. This leads to the film’s most controversial suggestion – that Assange erred by turning the charges into a human rights issue. Consequently his supporters have since gone on to accuse Gibney of downplaying the possibility of his imprisonment in the US should Sweden extradite him.

Just as contentious are the reminiscences offered up by Assange’s former WikiLeaks colleagues. While there are few surprises in Gibney’s interviews with Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who split with Assange some time ago, his dissatisfactions are reiterated by others in the group. The general tenor of their complaints is over Assange’s ability to command the headlines with his personal predicament at the expense of the cause that brought them all together in the first place. WikiLeaks, they think, has become conflated with the Julian Assange Effect.

The film has provoked mixed reactions. Assange supporters see it as a hatchet job. It’s also been criticised as being little more than a rehash. It certainly lacks the narrative punch of Gibney’s earlier films, and its attempts to compare and contrast Assange’s character and circumstances with those of Manning makes it feel cumbersome in places.

But given that Gibney could not interview either of his main players, it’s remarkably compelling.

Julian Assange

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Philippine rescuers overwhelmed by disaster

Overwhelmed rescue workers are struggling to bring aid to famished and destitute survivors of the super typhoon that tore through the Philippines and left a feared 10,000 dead.
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As rescuers tried to reach areas along a heavily damaged chain of Philippine islands, survivors described a toll that the impoverished country will be contending with for years.

Entire regions are without food and water, towns have been pulverised and bodies are strewn on the streets after typhoon Haiyan – one of Asia’s most destructive natural disasters in recent decades – brought waves as high as two-storey buildings and winds of up to 270km/h.

Threatening to further hamper the relief efforts was a tropical depression approaching the southern and central Philippines. Government weather forecasters said the depression could bring fresh floods to the typhoon-affected areas.

The typhoon touched down in central Vietnam on Monday, threatening to stretch that country’s resources to the limit.

More than 600,000 people fled their homes at the weekend to avoid the storm, which had weakened since it struck the Philippines.

Vietnamese authorities closed schools, ordered all boats back to shore and warned people fleeing the storm’s path to take enough food and water to last for three days.

The full scale of the disaster in the Philippines is only now becoming apparent, with photos and videos showing massive destruction.

There have been reports of widescale looting by desperate survivors. President Benigno Aquino, who travelled by helicopter to the hard-hit city of Tacloban, said the government had deployed soldiers to “show the strength of the state and deter further looting”.

Schoolteacher Andrew Pomeda told the Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Tacloban is totally destroyed. Some people are losing their minds from hunger or from losing their families. People are becoming violent. They are looting business establishments, the malls, just to find food.

“I’m afraid that in one week people will be killing from hunger.”

The latest Philippine government estimates suggest that 9.5 million people – about 10 per cent of the country – have been affected, with more than 600,000 displaced from their homes.

Many roads remain impassable, according to the UN office responsible for humanitarian affairs, and some of the injured have no access to medical care.

Even in Tacloban, one of the first areas accessed by aid workers, it takes six hours to make the 23-kilometre round trip between the airport and the city because of the damage, officials said.

“It is vital that we reach those who are stranded in isolated areas as they are at risk of further threats such as malnutrition, exposure to bad weather and unsafe drinking water,” said Luiza Carvalho, a UN humanitarian co-ordinator for the Philippines.

Tacloban, with a population of 220,000, is the capital of Leyte province, a mountainous island. On Samar, a slightly larger island nearby, Leo Dacaynos of the provincial disaster office told AP that 300 people were dead, 2000 were missing and parts of the island had not been contacted.

Both Samar and Leyte are on the eastern side of the Philippine archipelago; reports about islands on the western side remain sparse.

Media in Manila have reported heavily on security worries in the devastated areas.

Video footage shows crowds ramming into the Gaisano mall in Tacloban and hauling out supplies, including clothing, suitcases and an ice-cream freezer. Philippine television reported that ATMs were being looted.

Reports said that communication infrastructure was heavily damaged, slowing the emergency response. Even in Tacloban, mobile service is not possible.

“There is a need for food and water,” said Gwendolyn Pang, secretary-general of the Philippine Red Cross. “But we still have yet to assess the full damage” because some areas are cut off.

With a massive relief operation under way, the Philippine Red Cross told the AP that its efforts were being hampered by looters, including some who attacked trucks of food and other relief supplies that the agency was shipping from the southern port city of Davao to Tacloban.

The government said it would speed up aid and food distribution to victims.

“We have to move fast considering the extent of the devastation. People in the worst-hit areas need food, water and medicines,” Corazon Juliano-Soliman, secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, said.

The UN World Food Program said it is trying to airlift supplies and set up operating hubs in the hardest-hit areas.

“The main challenges right now are related to logistics. Roads are blocked; airports are destroyed,” said Praveen Agrawal, the WFP representative in the Philippines.

President Barack Obama said that the United States was prepared to help the Philippines recover. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the military’s Pacific Command to send ships and aircraft to help with search-and-rescue operations and carry emergency supplies to those in need.

Mr Obama said the US was providing significant humanitarian assistance, “and we stand ready to further assist the government’s relief and recovery efforts”.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the millions of people affected by this devastating storm,” he said.

Australia has pledged $10 million, with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop describing the unfolding tragedy as “absolutely devastating” and on a “massive scale”.

A team of Australian medics would leave on Wednesday on a C17 military transport plane from Darwin to join disaster experts on the ground, the government said.

Washington Post, London Telegraph, Agencies

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Lack of depth leaves weary Wallabies with little in tank

When Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie replaced Quade Cooper after 59 minutes of the Test against Italy in Turin, it was a sensible bit of squad management he probably longs he could do a bit more of.
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Examine the heavy workload of instrumental Wallabies this year, including Super Rugby, and one conclusion leaps out. It is uncommon and unsustainable.

In Super Rugby, Brumbies hooker Stephen Moore accumulated 21.56 hours of service. That is not far off the total of 24.16 hours booked, collectively, by the All Blacks’ three hookers, Andrew Hore, Keven Mealamu and Dane Coles.

Moore also played out the full 80 minutes nine times. The New Zealand trio, again in total, did that just three times throughout the whole of Super Rugby. That is a staggering difference.

At that other end of the age scale, Australian rugby is also asking a lot of its commodities. Michael Hooper played almost five more hours of Super Rugby than Chiefs peer Sam Cane – who job-shares at Super and Test level – despite not featuring in the finals. Hooper played every minute of every game he was available for the Waratahs, then continued into the draining British and Irish Lions series and Rugby Championship, where he has again been asked to carry a heavy workload, almost exclusively, at No. 7. As for Moore’s post-Super Rugby exertions, if you are a Brumbies and Wallabies fan, you’ve probably seen more of him than your own partner this year. And these two are not isolated cases.

The likelihood of two things increases when you ask someone to keep playing at high levels for extended periods. You break them, or they produce performances that are good but not as good as you might get with a mentally and physically rejuvenated athlete. There is no way anyone can be at their peak from February to late November.

You can see why this situation arises – depth. At the Brumbies, for example, there is a pattern to how they use Moore. The back-up hooker, Siliva Siliva, has a lot of potential – Wallaby potential – but there was an evident wariness about throwing him in at the deep end (and understandably so). At the start of the season it was five minutes here, 10 minutes there, but at the business end Moore was the go-to man. Siliva didn’t get a single minute of finals rugby.

At the Waratahs, they need to win games. They are fighting for relevancy in the Sydney market. People want to see Hooper play, especially when having an openside who can cover the ground like Hooper can is essential to the way they were playing the game.

So how can you solve this problem? It certainly throws up a lot of curly questions, but you can probably boil it down to one hard one: Does Australia want its Super Rugby teams to do well or the Wallabies? Of course, in the ideal world the answer is both, but in that blissful fictional existence the money trees are thriving in the backyard, too.

Even if a functioning “third-tier” competition gets off the ground next year, it will take a year or two before it starts to feed into the Super Rugby system. In the interim, there might be a few interesting discussions between Ewen McKenzie and the Super teams. The Wallabies’ injury problems during the past few years tell their own tale. One bad year is probably unlucky, the next one starts to look like a trend.

With a bit of luck Tatafu Polota-Nau will return this weekend against Ireland to give the Wallabies a one-two punch at No. 2. But when you look at the kilometres on the clock of several Wallabies, they’ll be playing the Irish, Scottish, Welsh and their own weariness over the next three weeks.

Twitter @whiskeycully

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Wife puts homesick Fifita back on track at Cup

Manchester: Kangaroos enforcer Andrew Fifita has revealed how, while he was battling a severe bout of homesickness, his wife, Nikkita, propelled him to snap out of his funk enough for him to earn the players’ player award in Australia’s final pool game against Ireland.
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The Fifitas sacrificed their honeymoon to allow Andrew to make his Australian debut, and he was given just one day’s leave for his wedding when the Kangaroos entered their World Cup camp.

But despite featuring in all of Australia’s World Cup matches so far, Fifita wasn’t satisfied until his performance in the 50-0 win against Ireland, where he started on the bench.

“She said I needed to pull my finger out because I didn’t think I was playing that good,” Fifita said. “She said, ‘Grab the ball and go hard’. My debut and the second game I played, I thought I did make good impact but wasn’t as good. I think I went out a bit cocky in the first game and they put me on my back. I said, ‘I need to run harder’ or something and the next one I did.”

Nikkita arrives on Thursday, with the couple’s son, Latu Jay, who celebrates his first birthday on November 20. Their arrival can’t come soon enough for Fifita.

“I’m having big troubles, homesickness-wise,” he said. “I’ve come straight from my wedding. I’m meant to be on this honeymoon stage. I have never felt this before, the feelings I have for my son. I’m missing him so much.

“They leave next Wednesday but I won’t see them until they get to London. It’s my son’s birthday, so I am anxious to see them. If I have a team dinner, I’ll ask to have it off or bring them to team dinner.

“I’m Face-Timing — thank you for technology. It makes you miss them even more because you see them through a screen. Your heart goes out because you can’t hug or give them a kiss.”

While Fifita’s appraisal of his form has been tough, there is no doubt he has cemented his position on the Kangaroos’ bench. He has lifted the tempo in his three outings and has been among Australia’s top three forwards for metres gained in each game.

After finishing the NRL season as Cronulla’s top try-scorer, Fifita added another four-pointer with his first Test try against Ireland.

“The try was excellent,” he said. “It was off ‘Gal’ [Paul Gallen] and I saw Gal running out and I thought there was a hole there, so I went for it. Gal [earlier] said, ‘Let’s have a competition on who will score the most points’ and he came straight up to me and said he isn’t going to count that one.”

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