Top magistrate warns of social cost of ‘short-sighted’ cuts

Local Court Chief Magistrate Graeme Henson cautions against “short-sighted” budget cuts. Photo: Louie Douvis Rural justice hit by cuts to magistrate numbers: Chief Magistrate Graeme Henson. Photo: Brendan Esposito
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The chief magistrate of the NSW Local Court has warned against the “short-sighted reduction” in the number of judges, and foreshadowed funding cuts could hit country areas especially hard.

Judge Graeme Henson, who was been chief magistrate of the court for almost a decade, said the state government had cut six magistrate positions since 2013 and another two were expected in the year ahead.

“The Local Court of NSW already has the lowest ratio of magistrates to population in the Commonwealth,” Judge Henson said in a strongly-worded foreword to the Local Court’s 2014 Annual Review.

He warned the court may have “no alternative” than to reduce attendance in some of the smaller courts in country locations.

“Should that come to pass, the social cost in providing a lesser service may well exceed the purported cost savings to government through a short-sighted reduction in judicial numbers,” he said.

Judge Henson’s comments come as the District Court buckles under the pressure of a growing caseload and fewer judges. The NSW Law Reform Commission said in a report released this year that criminal proceedings had “major systemic issues” and were “in, or approaching, a state of crisis”.

The NSW Bar Association has called for more judges to be appointed to the District Court to deal with the backlog.

In the Local Court, Judge Henson said the criminal caseload increased by 14,000 matters in the past year despite a reported drop in the crime rate.

Shadow attorney-general Paul Lynch said: “The strength of the Chief Magistrate’s comments show how very serious the position is in the Local Court.

“Since 2011 the government has consistently starved the Local Courts of resources and caused the closure of courts and the reductions of services in others.”

Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton conceded there were “particular challenges facing parts of the justice system, including in the Local Court” but the government was building or upgrading courts across NSW including in regional areas such as Wagga Wagga.

She said the court “continues to lead the country in several key performance indicates as measured by the Productivity Commission”.

“For example, the commission’s Report on Government Services [in] 2014 shows that NSW is the best performing jurisdiction for Local Court criminal backlogs for the seventh consecutive year.”

Ms Upton said the challenges facing the justice system “have not emerged overnight” and reflected the fact that “the justice system has not kept pace with change over a long period of time”.

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Flood victims still waiting as Dungog council battles insurer over Alison Court

The units of Alison Court assisted living facility were badly damaged in the Dungog superstorm. Image suppliedQuestions remain over flood death
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DUNGOG mayor Harold Johnston has admitted he wouldn’t let his mother live in the low-lying units at Alison Court, fearing the risk of future floods too high.

Dungog council is yet to make a decision about the long-term future of the community housing complex that was inundated with water during April’s super storm.

Resident Colin Webb drowned during the disaster which saw 18 of the 20 units severely damaged by water.

Four months on, Cr Johnston said Alison Court was ‘‘still a huge problem’’ and things had ‘‘not progressed very far’’.

Like several Dungog residents, the council is locked in a battle with its insurer, State Wide Mutual, about whether the damage to the complex was caused by storm water or flood water.

Seventeen residents are still living in temporary accommodation. Resident Jean Robertson organised a meeting with council officers and Cr Johnston on site this week.

‘‘We just want to know what is going on,’’ she said.

Cr Johnston said nothing could be finalised until the insurer made a final decision on the council’s claim and they were waiting for the results of a third hydrologist report.

‘‘Up to now the insurer has been making noises that the decision will not be favourable,’’ he said.

‘‘We have to wait until a final outcome before making a decision that will obviously take into account future risk at the site.’’

Alison Court apartments which were inundated with flood waters from the storm water channel in the middle of the paddock in Dungog. The units in the foreground had water rise up to their ceiling. Photo: Janie Barrett

If the insurance claim is approved, council plans to advertise a tender to repair the buildings. The other option is to seek state and federal government funding to assist with the repairs.

Asked if he thought the site was safe for elderly residents to live, Cr Johnston said the council had not formally discussed the issue.

‘‘My personal opinion is that there are some of the lower-lying units, that if it was my mother I wouldn’t be happy to have her in there,’’ he said.

‘‘Some people are not as mobile as they could be and I don’t think we should put our older, valuable people at risk.’’

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Unsung Socceroos ready for next step towards World Cup

A star team, it is said, will always beat a team of stars.
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Which is just as well for the Socceroos as they prepare to take another couple of steps on their route to the World Cup in Russia in three years.

Once, Australia would select a squad made up of numerous players from the English Premiership, the Bundesliga, La Liga and the Serie A, not to mention a smattering of men from strong second-tier European leagues like Holland’s Eredivisie.

Not now. The bulk of Ange Postecoglou’s squad ply their trade in surroundings which in comparison are distinctly unglamorous, such as the English Championship, the J-League, the Middle East, South Korea and the domestic A-League.

Not that they should need a glittering array of talent playing at the highest level to deal with the likes of Bangladesh and Tajikistan, their next two opponents in Asian World Cup qualifying.

Postecoglou’s men face the Bangladeshis in Perth on Thursday before travelling to Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, for a step into the unknown the following Tuesday.

Two wins in these two encounters would lift them to nine points from their first three games (they beat Kyrgyzstan away from home in June in the first game) and provide them with a perfect platform to ensure they take their place in the final Asian qualifying group phase next year.

Should the lack of big names at high-profile clubs really matter?

It won’t in this phase of qualifying, and may not, despite what some pessimists might fear, should Australia make it to Russia and be pitted against some of the world’s highest-ranked teams packed with players who regularly make the shortlist for global-player-of-the-year awards.

After all, it’s how the team performs together that counts, and there is no doubt that the Socceroos, especially under their home-grown coach, have risen to the occasion several times in the past few years when matched against teams made up of players with far more impressive CVs.

And plenty of countries have shown in the recent past that reputations established at the pinnacle of the club game may count for little at international level.

Algeria took eventual World Cup winners Germany to extra time in a thrilling round-of-16 match in Brazil last year, giving the Germans more trouble than any other opponent bar beaten finalists Argentina, who succumbed to Mario Gotze’s extra-time winner.

Even more impressive off an equally low base of expectation were the Costa Ricans, who only crashed out of the tournament in a penalty shoot-out at the quarter-final stage to the Dutch.

The Ticos were expected to be cannon fodder for Italy, Uruguay and England in the group phase, but they stunned not just those three countries but the football world by topping their group before seeing off Greece in a round-of-16 game.

The Central Americans boasted few big names. Brian Ruiz, whose dysfunctional seasons with Premier League stragglers Fulham had impressed no one, was their star man.

But he grew an arm and a leg, as did his countrymen, when they pulled on the national team shirt and the results of such belief and morale were there to see.

And of course the Socceroos themselves, devoid of headline names in Brazil, provided further evidence of what impact playing for the national team can have with two tremendous performances against the Netherlands and Chile. That form was made to look even better when the latter, 12 months later, won the Copa America to officially stamp themselves as South America’s No.1 team.

Australia’s Asian Cup triumph in January might not quite fall into the same category, but it could be argued that South Korea, the beaten finalists, certainly had a smattering of players with bigger names and profiles than any Australian save the ageing warrior Tim Cahill. The latter’s legend has only grown in the past decade even though it is a couple of years now since he left the Premier League, first for the MLS in America and now China’s Superleague.

For many players, appearing for their country is a huge opportunity to put themselves in the shop window, and galvanises them for that reason as they seek to impress and find a move to a bigger club or league.

For others it is simply a matter of national pride.

The current squad boasts several younger, promising players who may go on to bigger things.

It’s easy to forget that players like Massimo Luongo, Trent Sainsbury, Bailey Wright, Jason Davidson, Aziz Behich, Tommy Oar, Tom Rogic, Jackson Irvine, Chris Ikonomidis and Matthew Leckie are all still in their early to mid-twenties and have plenty of time to make the jump to higher levels. Given that Leckie is playing and scoring in the Bundesliga for a newly promoted club, it could be said he has.

Many Australians have proved themselves to be late bloomers. Cahill was in his mid-twenties before he got the chance to leave lower-level Millwall to play for Everton in the EPL. Lucas Neill spent years in South London with the same club before getting his EPL opportunity with Blackburn. Scott Chipperfield came through the old NSL before getting his move to Basel in Switzerland where he established his reputation and became a regular Socceroo. Richard Garcia plied his trade around the lower leagues in England before getting a Premiership chance with Hull City and making the national team, starting in the 2010 World Cup.

Oar, who burst on to the scene as a teenager with Brisbane Roar and moved to the Netherlands as a youngster, was a national team regular under Holger Osieck. He was a big part of Postecoglou’s plans at first.

But he lost his place during the World Cup and his whole career looked to be in limbo when he left Utrecht, his Dutch club, and had yet to find a new team when the European season kicked off in early August.

Postecoglou has shown faith and persevered with the diminutive winger, who came off the bench to score the decisive second goal in Kyrgyzstan, and he will be delighted to see Oar sealing a new deal at the weekend with English Championship promotion chasers Ipswich Town, where he now has the chance to get his career back on track.

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Adelaide Crows’ first quarter set up big win over West Coast Eaglesphotos, video

Crows’ opening blitz sees them soar over Eagles | photos, video Nic Naitanui of the Eagles win a ruck knock during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.
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Dom Sheed of the Eagles kicks under pressure from Patrick Dangerfield of the Crows during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Taylor Walker of the Adelaide Crows reacts after the finals siren during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Sam Jacobs of the Crows cops a knock during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Rory Sloane of the Crows attempts to tackle Luke Shuey of the Eagles during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Nic Naitanui of the Eagles and Sam Jacobs of the Crows contest possession during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Jack Darling of the Eagles flies for a mark during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Eagles and Crows players compete for a mark during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Matt Crouch of the Crows runs with the ball during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Taylor Walker of the Crows bumps Jeremy McGovern of the Eagles during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Jeremy McGovern of the Eagles and Josh Jenkins of the Crows compete for the ball during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Josh Jenkins and Rory Sloane celebrate a goal during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Josh Jenkins of the Crows marks the ball during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Josh Jenkins celebrates a goal during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Jack Darling kicks for goal during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

TweetFacebookAdelaide 8.3 9.6 4.8 19.12 (126)defeatedWest Coast Eagles 0.1 5.4 6.6 10.9 (69)

GOALS – Adelaide:Jenkins 6, Walker 3, Betts, Lynch, Cameron 2, Dangerfield, Sloane, Knight, Atkins.West Coast:Le Cras, Cripps 2, McGinnity, Hutchins, Kennedy, Sheed, Shuey, Sinclair.

BEST – Adelaide:Dangerfield, Jenkins, Talia, Smith, Jacobs, Laird, Sloane.West Coast:Sheed, Shuey, Gaff, Rosa, Priddis, Sheppard.

INJURIES– McGovern (left shoulder).REPORTS– Nil.UMPIRES– Stevic, Chamberlain, Meredith.CROWD53,445 at Adelaide Oval.

The remarkable Phillip Walsh spoke of creating a masterpiece and on Sundaythe team he so sadly left behind painted a brilliant one at Adelaide Oval that overwhelmed everyone,especially the West Coast Eagles.

Never in Adelaide’s 25 years have they produced a more stunning and authoritative opening quarter –8.3 to 0.1 – setting up a terrific 57-point surprise win that has denied the Eagles a chance of claiming top spot going into the finals.

The Crows haveGeelong to play at Simonds Stadiumand perhaps seventh spot in sight. But forget the notion the Crows will be making up the numbers in the finals. This was an astonishing win against a genuine premiership threat.

And with 53,445 fans making big noise – the biggest non-showdown AFL attendance at this ground – sneaking a home-town final now comes into the equation.

The first term was the Eagles’ worst since being scoreless against Footscray in round 23, 1992 – the season they won their first premiership – and it was Adelaide’s best since round 22, 2011.

In key match-ups, Patrick Dangerfield was better than Brownlow medallistMatt Priddis, Daniel Talia outplayed the likely Coleman medallist Josh Kennedyand Sam Jacobs outclassed Nic Naitanui.

Remarkably, in brilliant conditions Adelaide kicked the first nine goals, West Coast the next five to look as if they would make a great recovery, before the Crows kicked the next five. The Eagles were expected to respond to Adelaide’s incredible start, but that the Crows also respond with a steady and disciplined third quarter was admirable.

At one stage of that first term Adelaide had six goals from 10 inside-50 entries. They had 46 more disposals and dominated the uncontested possessions 71-32 which was a reflection of the frenetic pace they moved the ball around.

However, the real big difference compared with most matches this season was Adelaide’s decision-making. They were always prepared to play-onbut at crucial times players, especially Tom Lynch, who has become a vital link-man, waited and attacked with precision. They refused to be rattled by the Eagles and make too many mistakes under pressure.

West Coast got within 24 points in the second term with a lift inmidfield, but the Crows’ defence, led by Talia, Brodie Smith and Rory Laird, stood up remarkably well. The much-talked about Eaglespowerforwardshad a really tough day.

Adelaide lookso dangerous when Josh Jenkins is in the goal-kicking mood like he was on Sunday. He marked powerfully, and perhaps more than Taylor Walker is the key to their scoring power. Jenkins kicked goals when the Eagles threatened to steal this game, and he finished with a career-best six goals.

Another significant key to this win were the performances by newcomers Rory Atkins and Riley Knight. Their enthusiasm was infectious; their decision-making process belied their handful of gamesexperience.

West Coast had won their previous three games herebut were for most part denied the ability to start their forward thrust from defence. The Crows’ forwards held the ball in their 50-metre zone so well, pressuring the Eagles into mistakes and causing turnovers.

Adelaide amassed 78 more disposals, and had a far better efficiency rate. However, the Eagles clearly won the clearances by five including eight more centre clearances. Most other statistics were generally even.

Perhaps the telling factor was Adelaide led the inside-50 marks 19-13, an indication that the Eagles’ shorter defence may prove a concern in the finals. Adelaide’s ability to work the ball forward quickly and find targets like Jenkins and the much shorter Eddie Betts exposed weaknesses.

The Crows have enjoyed some great wins over the years, but this one was special because of the finals structure, and especially because when they last met in the 15th series and lost by 56 points it was full of so much emotion following the death of Walsh.

Walsh would have loved the speed in which the Crows moved into their 50 zone, the unrelenting pressure on the man and the fight for the ball, and particularly the outstanding teamwork. It was a selfless, committed performance. It was pretty as a picture; a masterpiece.

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Medibank and Calvary resolve health insurance dispute at 11th hour

Calvary and Medibank have settled their dispute but neither party will reveal the terms of the new agreement. Photo: Glenn HuntMedibank Private customers will be free to use hospitals run by Calvary Health Care following a last minute resolution to a dispute that would have ended the agreement between Australia’s largest private health fund and the chain on Monday.
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Negotiations between the fund and the Catholic-affiliated hospital chain broke down in July after Medibank declared that it would no longer pay for 165 “highly preventable adverse events” and unplanned hospital readmissions within 28 days saying the crackdown would help eliminate mistakes.

“We had reached an agreement that will deliver enhanced clinical safety, quality care and affordability for members and patients,” both parties said upon signing a new three-year agreement. “It is good for both our organisations and all other stakeholders, be they staff or doctors.”

At the height of the dispute Medibank took out full-page newspaper advertisements to counter what it terms misleading and misinformed statements from Calvary.

“Unfortunately, unlike [other private hospitals] Calvary believes health insurers should pay for mistakes which can be prevented, like falls and pressure sores, even though they happen in their hospitals,” it said in advertisement.

Last week it offered to introduce an independent clinical review process to clarify situations where responsibility for adverse events was unclear.

Although neither party will reveal the terms of the new agreement it is likely to put pressure on other hospitals to adopt the rules Medibank was proposing.

Consumers Health Forum chief executive Leanne Wells said the secrecy was “not good enough”.

“Consumers pay thousands of dollars a year in health insurance premiums and the health fund involved is a publicly listed for-profit company.”

“For all members know, Calvary may have weakened and agreed to 160 or the 165 claims – hardly a big win for consumers because differential costs will still fall to consumers. Basically Medibank private members don’t know what they don’t know.”

Had the agreement not been signed, Medibank would have continued to pay for treatment at Calvary Hospitals, but the hospitals would have been free to charge patients extra where it felt it had not been paid enough.

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Bart Cummings dead: Why the Cups King was so much better than the rest

A legend on and off the track: Saintly and Frightening with Bart Cummings at Flemington the morning before the Melbourne Cup in 2003. Photo: Steve ChristoKing of the Cup’A legend in every sense of the word’Bart’s horses win after his deathCummings passes away at 87Gai Waterhouse and Tony Abbott lead tributes
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“There’s something radically wrong,” Percy Sykes opined to Bart Cummings, then very much a newcomer at Flemington, regarding Light Fingers in 1965.

Light Fingers had been a strong fancy for the Melbourne Cup, but pulled up sore after the Caulfield Stakes with a ricked muscle in her neck and shoulder. Even trotting she threw her neck around in pain, and she missed the Caulfield Cup. Cummings went into a renowned pose with hands behind his back and in deep concentration about the mare that was doing a figure eight in front of the pair on the morning before the first Tuesday in November.

Little did I realise at my first Melbourne Cup this was an initial portrayal of genius when it came to thoroughbreds, and something I would witness in following decades that made him great, particularly for Australia’s greatest race.

“You can’t run her,” Sykes told him, according to his biography “Bart – My Life”. But the Cummings prowess and instinct came into play. “Percy Sykes gave Light Fingers a cortisone injection in her sacroiliac, an admission that she was not fully fit but the Melbourne Cup is its own ultimate fitness test,” Cummings decreed, and felt she had the horsepower to match her heart.

Under extreme riding from Roy Higgins, Light Fingers overcame stablemate Ziema in a dynamic staying duel. Cummings became only the third trainer in Melbourne Cup history to prepare the quinella, and went on to achieve the feat five times.

The race that stops a nation emphasised his ability, notching 12 in all, and 10 placings from 89 starters. Prior to Light Fingers,  old-timers reckoned no other trainer would top the five achieved by Etienne de Mestre from what was regarded as a less demanding era.

As Cummings’ 266 group 1 successes confirms, he was a great trainer over any distance with any type of horse.

Galilee was probably his best, but then Saintly was outstanding, and mares like Leilani, Maybe Mahal and Light Fingers produced dazzling results for the master and his achievements have been rated with Donald Bradman. But adversity came into play, too, and he rolled with the punches with the same dry delivery as triumphs.

“Humour is his defence, the moat around his secret world, and he is good at it, quick, dry and disarming. No one in Australia plays the wag better,” Les Carlyon, the weight-for-age wordsmith, maintained.

Cummings was outed in 1961 for 12 months due to sudden improvement in his charge, Cilldara, who had won at Morphettville after finishing last at the provincial track, Gawler.

At the Cummings appeal, Tommy Smith and Sykes gave evidence that blinkers, a new invention to Australian racing at the time, were responsible for the reversal, definitely acceptable in later decades. Alas the plea fell on deaf ears.

In 1969 another disaster struck when Caulfield Cup winner Big Philou, prepared by Cummings, was nobbled before the Melbourne Cup, and following a positive due to a mistake by staff, Cummings on April 11, 1979, was given 14 days to dispose of all of his 120 horses and 48 hours to find trainers for his 16 horses racing the following weekend. He was allowed to return in July.

However the king hit came in the late 1980s with the Cups King syndicate supposedly in partnership with a major accounting firm. “In 1989 on the syndicate’s behalf I bought almost 90 yearlings for $22 million from sales in Sydney, New Zealand and the Gold Coast,” he explained. “Recession and rising interest rates really hit hard in 1989 and financially it couldn’t have been a much greater disaster for me. I was left holding unsold yearlings . . .”

Sixty-four yearlings went into a fire sale. “The takings were $9 million for a group of horses I’d paid twice as much for,” he stressed.

Still Cummings battled his way back, and Let’s Elope taking the 1991 Melbourne Cup helped. T. J. Smith, not one to praise rivals, once paid him the supreme compliment after winning a major race.

“Only a crumb off the great man’s plate,” he conceded, but wanted the Melbourne Cup changed to a shorter distance.

“You don’t change the posts because you can’t kick a goal,” Cummings, who mellowed with age, countered.

Dealing with him in the hectic Sydney afternoon circulation battles with The Sun and Daily Mirror when jockey engagements and the future campaigns were vital, Cummings would change his mind more than his shirt. Frustrating. “You should try working for him,” son, Anthony, quipped about a unique personality, the like we didn’t see before nor will ever see again.

Once in a departure lounge at Tokyo, returning from a Japan Cup, Leon Corstens, then Cummings’ foreman, remarked to me: “Anybody that thinks they know Bart Cummings doesn’t know him.”

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Tom Rogic scores stunning goal for Celtic ahead of Socceroos’ World Cup qualifiers

Canberra product Tom Rogic has continued his resurgence ahead of his Socceroos recall with a cracking individual goal for his Scottish club Celtic.
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The 22-year-old midfielder danced past a couple of defenders before finding the back of the net in Celtic’s 3-1 win against St Johnstone on Sunday morning (AEST).

Rogic’s impressive performance is another positive before he links with the Socceroos squad in Perth this week ahead of Australia’s World Cup qualifier against Bangladesh at nib Stadium on Thursday night.

The games against Bangladesh and the September 8 clash away to Tajikistan will be Rogic’s first involvement with the Socceroos since being forced out of camp before the 2014 World Cup through injury.

Rogic has made the most of his opportunities with Celtic this season after becoming a more regular part of the starting side since returning from injury.

“It was pleasing to get the goal and I’m happy,” Rogic told the club’s website.

“I feel comfortable playing anywhere in the middle of the park, but I’m just happy to be playing and being in the team and helping them win.

“It was special to score in front of my home fans and I’m sure I won’t forget it.” ICYMI | Earlier, @Socceroos starlet Tom Rogic was on the scoresheet again for @celticfc against St Johnstone. pic.twitter上海夜网m/eYe4VpYbDw— Outside90 (@Outside90) August 29, 2015

Rogic’s impact at Celtic since joining the club in January 2013 has been limited by ankle and groin injuries.

However, he has hit the ground running with a full pre-season under his belt and looms as a vital cog in the Socceroos’ quest to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

The Socceroos are looking at adding depth to their ranks in the midfield, with captain Mile Jedinak ruled out of the trip to Perth with a hamstring injury.

The attacking stocks have also taken a blow with the news Robbie Kruse and Tomi Juric will stay at their clubs to continue their recovery from recent injuries.

Rogic gives the Socceroos an X-factor in attack and will provide a valuable point of difference against Bangladesh and Tajikistan.

Both countries are expected to have a defensive focus to attempt to steal a point.

Rogic said it was important Celtic bounced back after their elimination from European Champions League qualifying earlier in the week.

“It was important to put that behind us and come out here at home and get a win and a good performance,” Rogic said. “We have to move on and just learn from it and get better.” A terrific goal from Rogic as he shows great strength and skills to evade a clutch of defenders before lashing in from an acute angle.— Celtic Football Club (@celticfc) August 29, 201560 Clever footwork from Rogic to fashion a yard of space on the edge of the box before sending a low effort wide of the post.— Celtic Football Club (@celticfc) August 29, 2015

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Rugby World Cup 2015: Adam Ashley-Cooper believes omens augur well for Wallabies

Wallabies eye off Wales in warm-up
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Wallabies back Adam Ashley-Cooper still likens it to a childhood dream but, in his case, it is one that comes true.

He is driving from the Central Coast to Norths club training on a Thursday night in late August, 2005, when his mobile rings. It is Wallabies coach Eddie Jones on the line.

Jones tells Ashley-Cooper he is needed in Perth as back-up to help the Wallabies prepare for their Tri Nations Test against South Africa at Subiaco Oval in two days’ time.

Ashley-Cooper, now 31 and a veteran of 108 Tests, recalls his reply to Jones: “I said I was on my way to training. He said, ‘You have to do a U-turn. Go and pack your stuff’.”

Ashley-Cooper makes that turn. But his mind is spinning, especially after calling his mum to tell her of his change of plans and asking her to pack his bags to save time and give some chance of him making the flight to Perth.

“She thought I said I was going to church,” he says. “I said, ‘No … Perth’, and she said, ‘Why am I going to church in Perth?'”

Ashley-Cooper arrives at the airport shortly before his scheduled boarding time, makes the flight and settles in for the five-hour journey, unaware of what is to unfold two nights later.

Fast forward to game night … August 20, 2005.

The Wallabies have warmed up. Not selected and with no Wallabies uniform to wear, Ashley-Cooper is in civilian clothes, seated in the stands, tempted by the thought of a meat pie and a beer.

Suddenly a Wallabies official looks up and franticly calls him down to the Wallabies’ locker room.

He is told Elton Flatley is a late scratching due to blurred vision, that reserve back Clyde Rathbone is in the starting side and he is needed on the bench.

Ashley-Cooper is given a playing kit, including a jersey without a number and, within minutes, is on the field singing Advance Australia Fair with the Wallabies.

But wait, there is more … when Rathbone comes off injured near the end of the Test that Australia lose 22-19, Ashley-Cooper is on for his first Test cap as the 800th Wallaby.

Ashley-Cooper, who on Saturday flew out with the Wallabies for his third World Cup via the US where Australia will play the US Eagles in Chicago on Saturday, is still amazed by his unorthodox Test debut.

“It’s like that fairytale every kid dreams of,” he says. “Every kid has had that dream of being at a stadium, or watching the Wallabies and, for some reason, the coach picks them from out in the crowd and asks them to train or play with the Wallabies.”

Little wonder Ashley-Cooper also entertains the idea of a fairytale end to his Test career, saying that, as it “started with a fairytale … it’s going to end with a fairytale”.

It remains to be seen if Ashley-Cooper’s adieu to Test rugby will be the World Cup, after which he will join French club Bordeaux.

Under Australian Rugby Union law, because he has more than 60 Test caps, he will still be eligible to play for Australia.

But as for the World Cup, Ashley-Cooper says it is “my last hurrah”.

So when will that “last hurrah” be heard at the World Cup in England?

With a broad grin, Ashley-Cooper replies: “If you look at the [Wallabies’] history and how we are tracking – or how I am tracking – it was a quarter final in ’07 and a semi-final in 2011.

“It’s going to be a final in 2015. I’m all about the omens …”

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China, domestic GDP and RBA rates decision provide plenty of drivers

In Australia this week, the economic diary is replete, starting with the last of the components of second-quarter GDP growth, which the Australian Bureau of Statistics releases on Wednesday.Australian markets are set for relative calm after the upheaval of the past two weeks, with a steady flow of high-level economic data, including June-quarter gross domestic product, providing the focus for local investors.
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Current futures pricing points to a positive opening for the local equity market, although analysts have urged caution as they look to Chinese stock trading and further signs that the economic slowdown there is sharper than forecast.

The market volatility of the past two weeks was driven by heavy falls on the Chinese bourses, and broader concerns about the world’s second-biggest economy.

Further monetary easing by the People’s Bank of China amid the tumult underlined Beijing’s determination to guide the economy’s transition from export-led to consumer-driven growth, although market gyrations are proving harder to control.

Doubts about China have also forced several further downgrades of the global economic outlook.

Moody’s Investors Service on Friday cut its 2016 growth forecast for the G20 economies to 2.8 per cent from 3.1 per cent less than two weeks ago. China’s growth is forecast at 6.3 per cent in 2016, down from 6.5 per cent previously.

US investment bank Citi also trimmed its projections for world growth, from 3.3 per cent to to 3.1 per cent. Chinese data suggest sharper slowdown

Recent Chinese data, including credit expansion and fixed-asset investment, suggest a sharper slowdown this quarter than Moody’s previously judged, while Citi said its deteriorating outlook reflected “significant” downgrades for China, the eurozone, Japan and other major economies.

The news flow from China is light this week, with a series of purchasing managers indices (PMI) the main data to look to for any signs of faltering demand.

“[It’s] a relatively quiet week by volume of releases from China, but expect strong focus on the official PMIs for August on Tuesday for further confirmation of any further decline in manufacturing,” National Australia Bank wrote at the weekend.

“The services PMI has also shown greater resilience to date, so any decline would be significant,” he said.

In the US, meanwhile, employment and manufacturing data should confirm the health of the country’s economic recovery as Wall Street traders return to work from the northern hemisphere’s summer break. The mood on the US economy at the weekend’s Jackson Hole, Wyoming, economic symposium has been upbeat, although the US Federal Reserve and other policymakers say they are closely watching events in China.

In Australia, the economic diary is replete, starting with the last of the components of second-quarter GDP growth, which the Australian Bureau of Statistics releases on Wednesday.

These so-called “partials” include company operating profits and inventories on Monday and net exports on Tuesday. The Reserve Bank of Australia board also meets on Tuesday, but no one expects it to change the cash rate from the current 2 per cent. Wide spectrum of forecasts

Exports, meanwhile, are expected to have put a 0.3 percentage point drag on GDP, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists, while profits are seen down 1.8 per cent quarter-on-quarter. Inventories are forecast to have grown 0.2 per cent in the quarter.

All this, added to recent national accounts data, should leave GDP growth at 0.4 per cent for the quarter, which translates to 2.2 per cent for the year, according to the Bloomberg survey. This compares with 0.9 per cent and 2.3 per cent in the first quarter.

However, the spectrum of forecasts is wide, ranging from almost no quarterly growth to 0.6 per cent or more.

UBS economist George Tharenou is among the bears, predicting a quarter-on-quarter increase of 0.2 per cent.

“First-quarter real GDP surprised on the upside, but was boosted by a partly weather-related surge in exports and a large contribution from inventories, amid flat domestic demand,” he said.

“Looking ahead, second-quarter data suggest some payback, as exports retraced, inventories should drag and capex remains recessionary.”

Capital Economics’ Paul Dales is more optimistic, seeing a 0.7 per cent rise, “which would be a further sign that Australia is coping well with the end of its mining boom and the collapse in commodity prices”.

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Kununurra Cup signals the height of outback fashion – and end of the dry season

Fashions on the Field winners strut their stuff on raceday at Kununurra, in East Kimberley, Western Australia. Photo: James BrickwoodCup Day marks the end of the race season – and the dry season – in Kununurra, north east Western Australia.
Shanghai night field

In 35 degree heat and with the humidity closing in, over 1000 members of East Kimberley’s regional community came together on Saturday for the annual horse races, culminating in the Kununurra Cup, held at the track and in the shade of the Sleeping Buddha mountain.

Elise Petty, 42, an organiser of Fashions on the Field at the race meet, was charged with judging the day’s best dressed racegoers.

The owner of boutique Bangle Business, she said the day was a high moment in the area’s social and fashion calendar – and that the remoteness of the town, 3500km from Perth and 850km from Darwin, did nothing to deter women and men from pulling out the fashion stops.

“This is the biggest day for us. People go all out for this – and they shop local because if they don’t the shops close and the community loses out.”

Caity Craig, 27, co-organiser of the competition and wearing the symbolic race flower, the everlasting, said competition was close.

“Out of all the small towns I’ve lived in outback Australia, Kununurra is probably the most fashionable,” she said. “We buy it all locally, we don’t have to fly to Darwin or Perth or Sydney to find an outfit.”

An early wet season rainfall on Friday came as unwelcome news to farmers, but for some, the wet season can’t come too soon.

“It’s the end of the dry season, we’re longing for the wet,” said Anika Salerno, 29, a former model whose Italian family roots have long influenced business in East Kimberley. “It’s a bit of relief, everyone’s hanging out.”

For a town that is shaped by fast-paced change, not least Ord River’s stage two expansion project, increasing the area’s vast agricultural irrigation footprint and new alcohol restrictions that aim to target the community’s social inequality, the tradition of Cup day endures.

As the sun set over the nearby Ord River after the final race, two up coins reached into the night sky and towards the year’s rain clouds.

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