Nats to choose new Vets Affairs Minister

Michael McCormack will decide who will be his replacement as veterans affairs minister.New Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is set to decide who will be his replacement as veterans affairs minister within days.
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The new Nationals leader has taken on the infrastructure and transport portfolios, and will decide in the next couple of days who will become the nation’s third veterans affairs minister since December.

Party members and senators gathered for a special party meeting on Monday to see former leader Barnaby Joyce formally stand down after weeks of fall out surrounding his marriage break-up and relationship with a former staffer who is now pregnant.

“I want to make sure that people know that in me they will have a fighter. I have a huge challenge ahead of me,” Mr McCormack said after the vote.

NSW MP David Gillespie and agriculture minister and Joyce supporter David Littleproud earlier withdrew from a leadership contest.

But in a surprise move, Queensland MP George Christensen put up his hand, although his bid was unsuccessful.

Mr McCormack has previously been criticised for penning a 1993 column when he was a former newspaper editor describing homosexuality as “sordid behaviour”.

He has since apologised and voted in favour of same-sex marriage in parliament.

Despite stepping down from the leadership, Mr Joyce is still under investigation over his parliamentary expenses.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on February 21 ordered a review of whether Mr Joyce broke the ministerial code of conduct, but the review was cancelled after Mr Joyce quit two days later.

The Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority is still investigating his travel.

Mr Joyce cited allegations of sexual harassment – which he denies – as the final straw that led him to resign.

Catherine Marriott, a former West Australian Rural Woman of the Year, accused Mr Joyce of sexual harassment, but says she never intended for the allegations to go public.

Nationals federal president Larry Anthony confirmed he asked for her complaint against Mr Joyce be made in writing, but he insists he did not leak it.

“The confidentially that we were imposed on, by her solicitor and mine, we have kept,” Mr Anthony told Sky News on Monday.

Australian Associated Press

Butterflier Groves may miss Games trials

Madeline Groves may miss the Commonwealth Games swim trials despite clearing her name with FINA.She may have beaten a FINA doping panel ban but Rio Olympic swimming medallist Madeline Groves may still miss this week’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games selection trials.
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Australian head coach Jacco Verhaeren said the champion butterflier had entered the four day trials starting on Wednesday but it remained to be seen whether Groves contested them after a tough lead-up.

“I think with her we will see on the day,” Verhaeren said of the Rio 200m butterfly silver medallist’s chances.

Groves, 22, had to clear her name to contest the trials after facing suspension for missing three drug tests in 12 months.

Last October she escaped a ban when she successfully argued to the FINA doping panel that her third strike should not count because WADA testers did not do enough to find her.

Verhaeren said it had taken an emotional toll on Groves and had disrupted her preparation.

Adding to her anxiety before fronting the FINA doping panel, Dolphins teammates Thomas Fraser-Holmes and Jarrod Poort were hit with 12 month bans for the same offence.

Then Groves underwent surgery late last year to treat endometriosis, a painful condition where a lining in the uterus is found on another part of the body.

“There is a bit of a question mark (about Groves), she obviously had a very different preparation,” Verhaeren said.

“She had to deal with being on three strikes, which is obviously very difficult.

“We are very happy that it was proven that she wasn’t guilty of that, but as you can imagine emotionally it is draining.

“It puts you in a position where working hard and dealing with that is very difficult so she definitely started her preparation a bit later so let’s see where she is at.”

Verhaeren did not want to touch on Groves’ health battle but said the butterflier was back in the pool training.

The Dolphins mentor said they could not afford to push Groves ahead of the Gold Coast Games otherwise they risk burnout ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“It’s difficult to tell what level she is at but she is back in the water and training – she can look forward now,” Verhaeren said.

“(But) we got to take it easy with her and at the end of the day she needs to make a decision to get over a couple of issues – let’s hope that’s the case.”

Australian Associated Press

Blistering Finch ton has Vics on the brink

Victoria’s Aaron Finch has clocked 151 not out against WA in the Shield clash at the WACA.Victoria are on the brink of thumping Western Australia after three days of the Sheffield Shield clash at the WACA Ground, set up by a blistering Aaron Finch century and 10 Chris Tremain wickets.
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Victoria started the day at 1-70 with a 160-run lead and are within touching distance of a big win.

Despite some wobbles in the first session with Marcus Stoinis and Ashton Agar bowling well for WA, Finch put the Bushrangers on course to victory.

He smashed 151 in 122 balls to remain unbeaten when declaring at tea with Victoria 8-378, setting WA 469 to win.

Victoria looked likely to wrap it up in the last session, having WA 8-99 with the extra half-hour called.

But Josh Inglis (54) and Matt Kelly (24) survived to stumps with the Warriors 8-161. They are still 307 runs behind.

After falling to 5-153 in the morning session, Finch and Cameron White (41) guided Victoria to lunch and from there, Finch took off.

He brought up his century in 95 balls and then needed just 26 more to reach 150.

His first century since November 2016 and first ever at the WACA included 16 boundaries and seven sixes.

Stoinis (4-82) and Agar (2-115) toiled hard for WA. But having Matt Kelly hampered by a back complaint and Simon Mackin bowling a horror first over and never reappearing didn’t help.

Victoria’s pace attack was too good on a wicket offering plenty of assistance and with some cracks providing unplayable deliveries.

Tremain has backed up 7-82 in the first innings taking 3-61 while Scott Boland claimed 3-44 and Peter Siddle 2-39.

Stoinis did well with the ball for the match but knows some loose shots with the bat and not keeping the pressure up long enough with the ball has been costly.

“Obviously it’s disappointing,” Stoinis said.

“There’s a bit in the wicket and we didn’t bowl as well as we should have, and haven’t batted as well as we should have. You can’t let a good side like Victoria off the hook and that’s what we’ve done.”

Tremain has 10-143 for the game but more importantly is looking forward to closing out the important win for the Bushrangers.

“It’s vital to get a result and that’s our reality,” Tremain said.

“We need to play attacking cricket to get these results. If we want to be on top at the pointy end of this season, we are going to have to be on point the next two and-a-bit games.”

Australian Associated Press

Everything you need to know about the 2018 Newcastle Show

Everything you need to know about the 2018 Newcastle Show Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.
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Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

SEND IN THE CLOWNS: Dylan Wood, 5, at the Newcastle Show. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show: Greta Osborne is 85 years old. She has spent her whole life working on the carnival rides in sideshow alley. Photo by Marina Neil

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

Newcastle Show, photo by Marina Neil.

SHOOTING HOOPS: Rhys Cowell shows with skills that kill. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

SILLY FACE: Shanae Commins, left and Leandra Soars enjoying a day at the show. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

BIRD’S EYE VIEW: Benson Short, 4, way is up in the air. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

SHOW TREAT: Blair Bagnall with his showbag. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

BIG WIN: Gracie Swanbrough wins a fluffy toy. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

QUACK, QUACK: Emily “Ducky” Davey has the rubber ducks ready to go. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

COME ON DOWN: Hayden Darcy lures spectators to his stall. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

FUN TIMES: Singleton’s Hunter Maier and Grace Geddes share a laugh after competing in the cattle event. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

FLYING HIGH: Jade Moore throws her hands in the air on a ride at Newcastle Show. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

FACE PAINT AND ICE CREAM: Sisters Jaide and Evie Feeney at the Newcastle Show. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

TweetFacebookWhen is the Newcastle Show?Friday March 2 -9 am to 10pmSaturday March 3-9am to 10pmSunday March 4 –9am to 4pmGates close at 9pm on Friday and Saturday and at 3.30pm on Sunday. No admission after these times.

Where is the Newcastle Show?Newcastle Showground

How much are tickets?There are a range of tickets to pick from.

Adult (15 and over) – $15Concession – $12Child (5-15) – $10Under 5 years – freeFamily (4 people, any combination) – $34Family (5 people or more, any combination) – $39Check out the full list of ride and entry packages, as well as group prices, here.

What is the weather forecast?It has become common sentiment that it always rains on show weekend and this year seems to be no exception.

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast possible showers from Friday into next week. Keep an eye on the radar here.

What is on at the Newcastle Show?There are agricultural shows, dog competitions, a rodeo, art displays and more. Check out the schedule below.

What rides are at the Newcastle Show?There are rides for kids of all ages, even the grown up ones. Some of the highlights include:

Ferris WheelGhost TrainGravatronMidnight ExpressOutback Monster TrucksPirate shipPower SurgeSlippery SlideTeacupsTraditional CarouselTrainWhen are the fireworks?At 9pm on both Friday and Saturday nights there will be a fireworks display.

Read more about the show:Newcastle Show ushering in new era with first female presidentNewcastle Show a Varley family affairArchival revival: Newcastle Show

Greens tight-lipped on candidate complaint

Greens leader Richard Di Natale won’t say what the complaint was against Alex Bhathal.Greens candidate Alex Bhathal is running for the federal Melbourne seat of Batman for the sixth time and says by now the voters know her.
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But as the March 17 by-election fast approaches, electors are being kept in the dark about the nature of complaints against her from within her own party and how they have been handled behind closed doors.

Federal party leader Richard Di Natale stepped in to shield Ms Bhathal from questions about the allegations at a press conference at suburban Thornbury on Tuesday.

He refused to confirm the nature of the complaint, which has been reported as “bullying” by various media outlets.

“That issue’s been dealt with. We had an issue raised, a request for confidentiality which has been respected,” Senator Di Natale told reporters.

“We’re now in a position where Alex has been endorsed completely, comprehensively by her branch, by the state party and indeed by so many people in this electorate.”

When pressed about whether voters deserved to know about allegations against candidates and elected representatives, Senator Di Natale said the complainant had requested anonymity.

“When somebody makes a request confidentially it is incumbent on those people who are responding and dealing with that request,” he said.

“The issue was dealt with internally and the request for confidentiality has been respected and that’s the end of the matter.”

Ms Bhathal, a social worker by profession, shied away from talking about the issue and tried to promote her candidacy.

“We’re dealing with a situation here where I’m very well known and people can make their own judgements,” she said.

“The matter was dealt with, I have the overwhelming support of my branch, the largest branch in Australia.”

Asked if they stood for transparency, Ms Bhathal and Senator Di Natale walked away from reporters and ended the press conference.

Ms Bhathal has run for the Greens repeatedly since 2001 and lost Batman in 2016 when Liberal preferences flowed to Labor’s David Feeney.

The by-election in the marginal electorate was sparked by Mr Feeney’s resignation over his dual citizenship.

Ged Kearney is running for the ALP in a field of 10 contenders and says the issues involving Ms Bhathal should be resolved.

“Both parties in this election are campaigning on integrity and transparency,” Ms Kearney said.

“This is a matter for the Greens party, but I think the only way to make this matter go away is to give a full explanation for what has happened.”


* 2001 – 11.6 per cent

* 2004 – 13.9 per cent

* 2010 – 23.5 per cent

* 2013 – 26.4 per cent

* 2016 – 36.2 per cent

SOURCE: Australian Electoral Commission

Australian Associated Press

Panthers count on end to NRL halves swap

NSW and Kangaroos half James Maloney was Penrith’s key NRL off-season recruit.Most NRL clubs were at sixes and sevens during the silly season but Penrith coach Anthony Griffin is hoping he’s finally got those numbers sorted in 2018.
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While three-quarters of the clubs have a new halves combination entering the 2018 season, Griffin has been messing about with his since his arrival at Penrith two years ago.

But the recruitment of two-time premiership five-eighth James Maloney to partner young gun Nathan Cleary has the coach hopeful his days of revolving halves are finally over.

And with it the Panthers are ready to improve on semi-finals finishes in 2016 and 2017.

When Griffin took the reins at the Panthers, veteran halves Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace were expected to lead the club.

Penrith got within two games of the grand final but only after whiz-kids Bryce Cartwright and Cleary took over midway through the season.

Last season, youngster Te Maire Martin joined Cleary in the halves but he was moved on to North Queensland mid-year while then-skipper Matt Moylan was shifted to five-eighth.

Then injuries and off-field issues forced Griffin to blood budding talent Tyrone May in the No.6 jumper, and he suffered a torn ACL as the Panthers again fell in the second week of the finals.

Griffin took a glass half-full approach when looking back at his revolving door of halves.

“The strength of our club, though, is the fact that we haven’t been settled there and we performed very well,” Griffin said.

“There’s a lot of clubs with settled halves who would’ve liked to have gone to the second last week of the playoffs both years.

“We’ve been doing that with a brilliant halfback but an inexperienced one and he’s had half a dozen partners the last few years.

“Barring injury, hopefully you’ll see a settled halves this year.”

Griffin does not think any big changes are necessary.

Maloney is the only notable addition to a roster which has lost arguably its biggest match winners – with Moylan swapped for Maloney at Cronulla and Cartwright released to join Gold Coast.

In fact, Griffin believes only injuries and a habitual issue of slow starts to the season are potential major impediments to another finals run.

“To our credit, we haven’t started well the last couple of years, but we got down to the last six through a lot of determination and resilience and belief,” he said.

“There’s plenty of that within the group.

“We just need to get our football better early on in the year and I think that consistency of position and bringing (Maloney) in will help with that.

“Even though we’re starting this year with a different halves combination, I think it’ll help us be consistent, the two guys we’ve got there now.”


Ladder finishes over the past three seasons: 2017 – 7th, semi-finals, 2016 – 6th, semi-finals, 2015 – 11th

Coach: Anthony Griffin

Captain: Peter Wallace

Gains: James Maloney (Sharks), Tyrone Phillips (Bulldogs)

Losses: Sitaleki Akauola (Warrington), Bryce Cartwright, Leilani Latu, Mitch Rein (Titans), Matt Moylan (Sharks).

Best team: 1. Dylan Edwards, 2. Josh Mansour, 3. Dean Whare, 4. Waqa Blake, 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 6. James Maloney, 7. Nathan Cleary, 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 9. Peter Wallace (c), 10. James Tamou, 11. Isaah Yeo, 12. Corey Harawira-Naera, 13. Trent Merrin. Bench: 14. Tyrone Peachey, 15. Sam McKendry, 16. James Fisher-Harris, 17. Viliame Kikau.

Predicted finish: 6th

Betting: $15

Australian Associated Press

‘We’re delighted’: Tighes Hill residents back Carrington coal terminal closure

Delighted: Charlotte McCabe with daughters Agnes and Imogen. The Tighes Hill community overwhelmingly supports an investigation into the closure of Carrington coal terminal and “renewal” of the precinct.TIGHES Hill residents have overwhelmingly supported early NSW Government moves to close Carrington coal terminal and “renew” the precinct for tourism or other uses.
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Tighes Hill Community Group on Wednesday will present the Department of Planning with more than 300 submissions supporting an investigation of the Carrington precinct’s potential, on the final day of the public exhibition period for the draft Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan.

The investigation by thePort of Newcastle, working with Newcastle City Council and the Department of Planning,will look at the potential to relocate coal export facilities and bulk fuel storage away from residential areas. It was revealed withthe draft plan’sreleasein November.

Tighes Hill Community Group spokesperson Charlotte McCabe said residents were delighted the NSW Government was open to exploring closing the city’s oldest and most urban export coal terminal and concentrating all coal exports on Kooragang Island, further away from residential areas.

Renewal: An aerial view of Carrington coal terminal in the foreground and the port of Newcastle.

“We are heartened that the Department of Planning is aligning plans for the city with the wishes of the local community. Relocating the coal export terminal is a universally positive outcome for the people of the port and rail-side suburbs of Newcastle. It means greater economic diversity and less air pollution for Newcastle,” Ms McCabe said.

RELATED:‘We weren’t told’: Port Waratah on Carrington coal terminal closure plan

“This investigation is consistent with the decision by the Port of Newcastle to promote diversification. Relocating the Carrington coal terminal and stockpiles will free up prime real estate that could much more beneficially be used for new export or tourism industries such as the proposed Carrington Cruise Ship Terminal,uses that are compatible with a residential area.”

The group encouraged people to make a submission to the department before the public exhibition period ends on Wednesday.

A survey of 205 households in the Tighes Hill area found 92 per cent thought Carrington coal terminal should be phased out by 2024 when its current licence expires.

Doctors for the Environment Australia endorsed the call to investigate the relocation of the coal terminal as “well overdue”.

DEA spokesperson and Newcastle specialist Dr John Van Der Kallen said Newcastle’s three coal terminals were the city’s top sources of coarse particle pollution which contributes to a range of cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses.

The Carrington terminal was “much too close to residential areas”, Dr Van Der Kallen said.

Riley McGree hungry for more after impressive start at Jets

ON THE BALL: Riley McGree has proven a valuable addition to the Newcastle Jets squad after injuries to key attacking midfielders this season. Picture: AAPRiley McGree will be pushing for more game time, and more from himself, after an eye-catching starting debut for Newcastlein the 1-0 win over Brisbane.
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The 19-year Adelaide product came to the Jets on loan from Club Brugge in Belgium and made three half-hour A-League appearances off the bench before playing the entire game against Roar on Saturday at Suncorp Stadium.

The midfielder set up a great chance in the 18thminute and had strikes knocked wide in the 53rdand 93rdminutes in an attackingperformance Jets coach Ernie Merrick described as “sensational”.

With Argentinian Pato Rodriguez still out because of a calf strain and fellow import Ronny Vargas weeks away from a return, McGree will be in line to start again in the top-of-the-table clash with leaders Sydney FC at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday.

While “pretty pleased to get the start and play 90 minutes”, McGree was hungry for more and believed he had room for improvement.

“I wasn’t really expecting 90 but I’m just happy to get the run in my legs and play some football,” McGree said.

“I think there’s still work for me, there’s always work for players I think, but I still think I’m not at the top level that I can be yet so I’m pushing hard in training.

“I want to be starting games, I want to be playing regularly, week in, week out, and improving myself as a footballer and the team.”

As for taking on more responsibility in attack with Rodriguezand Vargas missing, McGree said: “I think wherever I play I want to take responsibility and create chances and score.

“It’s not a factor whether players are out or players are in.I’ll just come in and do what I’m supposed to do.”

The win in Brisbane guaranteed Newcastle finals football for the first time in eight years and a victory over Sydney will cut the gap to the top to eight points with five rounds to play. It will also keep third-placed Melbourne City at least eight points behind.

Riley McGree tackles Ivan Franjic on Saturday. Picture: AAP

“It’s definitely very exciting that we’re in the finals,” McGree said on Tuesday.

“But there’s still a lot of work to do, there’s still plenty of games to go, but we’re confident going in that we can hopefullygo all the way.”

Asked if taking on Sydney on Saturday was a daunting task, McGree said: “I don’t think it’s very daunting at all.

“We’re pretty keen to go in and get a result and play our style of football, attacking and create chances, so we’ll put in a good week on the training ground and see what happens on the weekend.

“I think there’s confidence every game. We’ve got the quality with the players on the pitch so we go into every gameexpecting to fight and get a result.”

I really think I suit Ernie’s style. His style is definitely very direct and getting in the zone to score. I love scoring goals, most players love scoring goals, so it’s good.

I’ve settled in well. I feel welcomed with the players and the coaching staff, I feel like I’ve been here for a long time, so I’m keen to get playing more and get more football.

Title-hungry Brisbane say no more excuses

Payne Haas (l) and Matthew Lodge should give the Brisbane Broncos pack added punch in 2018.No more excuses.
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That’s the mantra Brisbane have adopted for the 2018 NRL season as they look to snap the glamour club’s longest premiership drought.

The six-time premiers last tasted glory in 2006 – not that they have to be reminded.

In the foyer of their new $27 million headquarters, unveiled before the season, the Broncos’ silverware is proudly on display.

“We have always been a team that has been built on success, even from day one,” senior forward Sam Thaiday said.

“We have got the brand new facility so we have zero excuses now.

“We just have to convert all the good things for us off the field with some good results on it.”

Since master coach Wayne Bennett’s return in 2015 the Broncos have been thereabouts, finishing second, fifth and third on the regular season ladder and reaching a grand final, the semi-finals and the preliminary final respectively.

But do they have the quality to claim a seventh title under Bennett in 2018?

After being blown away 30-0 by Melbourne in last year’s finals, Brisbane lost Ben Hunt, Benji Marshall, Tautau Moga, Jai Arrow, Herman Ese’ese and Adam Blair in the off-season.

They added quality, not quantity.

Prized recruit Jack Bird arrived from Cronulla and is set to start his Broncos career in the centres after speculation he may dabble at lock or in the halves.

However, the NSW State of Origin star will miss at least the first month of the NRL campaign due to shoulder surgery.

The spotlight will fall on Brisbane’s halves after Hunt’s lucrative off-season move to St George Illawarra.

Bennett has given Kodi Nikorima first shot in the No.7 jersey after Brisbane won 11 of 13 games with the Kiwi international starting in the halves last year.

He will combine with Anthony Milford, who returns from shoulder surgery to begin his new four-year, $1 million-plus per season deal – making him the highest-paid player in club history.

Then there’s the pack.

Matt Lodge, 22, has controversially snapped up a one-year lifeline after avoiding jail for a 2015 New York rampage and he is set to fill the front row void left by Blair’s departure.

However, Thaiday believes whoever fills the three-bench forward vacancies can prove the difference this season.

Tevita Pangai and Joe Ofahengaue face stiff opposition from Jaydn Su’A, Dave Fifita, Cronulla recruit Sam Tagataese and ex-winger Corey Oates who trialled as a back-rower during the pre-season.

Giant 18-year-old prop Payne Haas – dubbed an “Andrew Fifita clone” – is also knocking down the door with his 194cm, 120kg frame.

“The most important people are going to be the three big boppers on the bench, the young guys are going to be the key,” Thaiday said.

“It is their time to shine.

“I am sure over the next few years with the youth coming through we will be a real threat to the competition.”


Ladder finishes over the past three seasons: 2017 – 3rd, preliminary final, 2016 – 5th – semi-finals, 2015 – 2nd, losing grand finalist.

Coach: Wayne Bennett

Captain: Darius Boyd

Gains: Jack Bird (Cronulla), Sam Tagataese (Cronulla), Andre Savelio (Warrington), Patrick Mogo (North Queensland)

Losses: Ben Hunt (St George Illawarra), Benji Marshall (Wests Tigers), Tautau Moga (Newcastle), Jai Arrow (Gold Coast), Herman Ese’ese (Newcastle), Francis Molo (released) , Adam Blair (Warriors), David Mead (Catalans)

Best team: 1. Darius Boyd (capt), 2. Jamayne Isaako, 3. Jack Bird, 4. James Roberts, 5. Jordan Kahu, 6. Anthony Milford, 7. Kodi Nikorima, 8. Korbin Sims, 9. Andrew McCullough, 10. Matt Lodge, 11. Matt Gillett, 12. Alex Glenn, 13. Josh McGuire. Bench: 14. Todd Murphy, 15. Sam Thaiday, 16. Tevita Pangai, 17. Corey Oates.

Predicted finish: 10th

Betting: $12

Australian Associated Press

Oakden report: SA govt to ‘face the music’

Commissioner Bruce Lander will release his report into the SA Oakden Nursing home on Wednesday.The South Australian government is set to “face the music” over its “scandalous” failure to protect residents at Adelaide’s Oakden Nursing home, Opposition Leader Steven Marshall says.
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Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander has been investigating if any maladministration was involved in the running of the home which was shut down last year after the mistreatment and neglect of residents was revealed.

Mr Lander is due to release his report on Wednesday.

Mr Marshall has criticised the government for refusing to allow the commissioner to conduct public hearings during his investigation.

“Labor have done everything they can to keep their scandalous inaction to protect older citizens living with mental health problems from the public gaze,” the opposition leader said on Tuesday.

“The Liberal Party tried to make sure that we could have open ICAC hearings when requested by the commissioner. Labor said no.

“They blocked it, they’ve got something to hide, tomorrow they’ll have to face the music.”

But Premier Jay Weatherill said he welcomed the release of the report.

“This is an important work of government and we’re looking forward to the report, looking forward to responding to it and discussing it,” he said

Earlier this month, Mr Lander said he would name three people who tried to keep their identities secret during the course of his inquiry.

It’s not known if those individuals are current or former government ministers but they recently dropped a challenge to the commissioner’s ruling that he could name them without their permission.

Mr Lander said concealing their identities would have made his report so vague it would “not be comprehensible”.

The ICAC investigation followed failures in clinical governance at Oakden as well as incidents of rough handling of patients, excessive use of restraints and a high level of injuries.

Australian Associated Press

Surf champ Tyler Wright turns to ballet

Tyler Wright has turned to ballet before the surfing season commences to fine-tune her technique.Two-time world surfing women’s champion Tyler Wright has turned to ballet as she looks for ways to stay in front of the pack this season.
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The 23-year-old says eight weeks out of the water has helped her recover from the knee injury she powered through to defend her title in December.

Ahead of next month’s World Surf League opener on the Gold Coast, Wright revealed dance studio sessions had helped fine-tune her technique.

“Dancers are athletes, they’re as gnarly as you get,”‘ Wright told AAP.

“Surfing isn’t an up and down sport; you move in every direction and having your movements analysed (by a ballet dancer) helps show how you can better use your whole body.”

Wright’s bravery was lauded when she strapped and braced her knee, ignoring the pain to defend her WSL crown last season.

But she says her fling with ballet shows a more thoughtful side to her that people might underestimate.

“I’m more analytical and calculated than people think on the work side of life,” the Culburra Beach product said.

“I love details, I’m fascinated by them, they’ve always held my attention and we (Wright and coach Glenn Hall) spend hours on it.”

Wright has been on the tour since 2011 and, with Kelly Slater’s artificial Surf Ranch added to the WSL schedule and surfing part of the 2020 Olympics, is excited by the direction the sport is heading.

“It’s in a full growing stage, it’s fascinating and everything’s changing but the integrity of it all is still there,” she told AAP.

“It’s clear that I’m a big fan and if people want to bring up (negative) points they better be ready for me to counter them.

“(The Olympics) gives everyone a platform to fall in love with the ocean, to fall in love with surfing and I just think surfing is such a good thing for people.”

Wright and brother Owen, who won last year’s Quiksilver Pro, will be drawcards at next month’s event alongside defending Roxy Pro champion and six-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore.

But Wright won’t be placing extra pressure on herself as hype builds around a possible WSL three-peat.

“I’ve got a great base to work off now, from all that I’ve done,” she said.

“I floundered for way too many years, but now I’ve got my own little system, everything is settled and I know where I’m going and what the goal is.”

Australian Associated Press

Senior Vic cop quits amid ‘abhorrent’ acts

Victoria Police Commissioner Graham Ashton says his former deputy’s actions were unacceptable.The head of Victoria Police’s ethical standards division has quit over racist and crude remarks made online, with the state’s top officer conceding it is “not a good day” for the force.
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Assistant Commissioner Brett Guerin resigned within hours of Fairfax media reporting racist comments on YouTube posted by his alias Vernon Demerest.

Mr Guerin was stood down last week and referred to the state’s anti-corruption commission, after being exposed using the same name – a character in the 1970 film Airport – to make graphic comments about people including former police commissioner Christine Nixon.

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton accepted Mr Guerin’s resignation, describing the internet posts as “abhorrent” and “unacceptable”.

“The organisation’s hurting today,” Mr Ashton told reporters on Tuesday.

“We hate these things when they occur, it’s just so out of expectations with behaviours that we want in Victoria Police.

“When things like this occur, particularly with a senior officer, it’s just a completely unacceptable situation.”

Victoria Police has no idea how many different aliases Mr Guerin was using to unleash the inflammatory online comments.

Nor does the force know how far back the comments stretch.

Mr Ashton said police were still searching for all Mr Guerin’s social media posts and he and others were in shock at the “completely out of character” behaviour, as Mr Guerin obtained good results leading integrity reforms across the police.

Former Police Association boss Paul Mullet, who was a target of inappropriate remarks made on a website by Mr Guerin, described the revelations as “shocking”.

“What’s evolved is absolutely disgusting, disgraceful, shocking,” Mr Mullett told ABC Radio on Tuesday.

“I wouldn’t think (those views) would be widespread.

“Brett Guerin may be a lone wolf, but certainly some form of audit needs to be performed in the investigative process to ensure, through (his) computer, that he was the only one saying these things.”

Mr Mullett was concerned journalists were partly responsible for finding Mr Guerin’s online identity and questioned why a complaint referred to Victoria Police by former chief commissioner Kelvin Glare wasn’t investigated.

Acting Premier James Merlino said the comments were “extraordinarily offensive” and the appropriate action had been taken, now Mr Guerin had quit.

Opposition police spokesman Edward O’Donohue said the events were “most disturbing”.

Mr Guerin last week publicly apologised for making sexually inappropriate remarks on a website about Ms Nixon and Mr Mullett.

“It’s crude and coarse language and, you know, what I’m most ashamed about is my mother and my daughters have read it now,” he told 3AW on Thursday.

“The language I used … was completely inappropriate, embarrassing and I can understand people saying ‘what the hell is this bloke doing?'”

He said he used the alias Demerest to avoid being associated with police.

Australian Associated Press

NZ may lobby Aust on nuclear weapons ban

Nuclear disarmament could come up when NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visits Australia this week.Australia could be in for a lecture from New Zealand on nuclear weapons disarmament.
Nanjing Night Net

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will visit Australia for talks with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the end of the week.

She’ll be accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, seven cabinet ministers and a business delegation.

Ms Ardern delivered a major foreign policy speech to the New Zealand Institute of Public Affairs on Tuesday and announced her government will reinstate the cabinet position of disarmament and arms control minister.

Last July, 122 countries voted in the United Nations to ban nuclear weapons.

Ms Ardern flagged in the speech her government was looking at an early ratification of the treaty.

“In a modern context, the greatest challenge comes from North Korea, situated right here in our region,” she said.

“At a time when risks to global peace and security are growing and the rules-based system is under such pressure, we must recommit ourselves to the cause of non-proliferation and disarmament.”

Australia has refused to sign up to the treaty ban and did not take part in the negotiations.

The country relies on the deterrent protection from the US’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

New Zealand has long adopted a firm line in opposing development of nuclear capabilities, which at times puts the small Pacific nation at odds with some allies.

In the mid-1980s, the NZ Labour government banned ships that were either nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed, prompting the United States to suspend security treaty obligations to New Zealand.

Relations warmed a little in 2016 when New Zealand’s centre-right National government approved the first visit by a US warship in 30 years.

Asked if she’ll raise the issue with Mr Turnbull, Ms Ardern told reporters in Wellington: “I have no qualms having conversations about it.”

The leaders are likely to find more common ground on trade and economic integration issues.

“Australia is our only ally and closest friend. As in any relationship, we will have our differences,” Ms Ardern said in the speech.

Ms Ardern is expected to take Mr Turnbull to task over the plight of Kiwi convicted criminals in immigration detention.

NZ also has an ongoing offer to resettle 150 refugees from Nauru and Manus Island, which has previously been rejected.

Mr Turnbull said he and wife Lucy were looking forward to welcoming Ms Ardern and her partner fishing show host Clarke Gayford.

Australian Associated Press