The gods of rugby heaven: The openside flankers

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Schalk Burger. Photo: Getty Images

Schalk Burger (South Africa)

Dynamic, robust and physical … three words that define Schalk Burger.

Although many who have played against the Springbok openside flanker may have other words to describe the two-times South African rugby player of the year recipient.

Since his 2003 debut for the Springboks against Georgia in the World Cup that was held in Australia, Burger has established himself as one of the major benchmark flankers in the world game.

That was due in a large to his energetic and high work-rate that in his early days often saw him run foul of the referee. Now 32, Burger has 79 Test caps to his name.

Thierry Dusautoir. Photo: Getty Images

Thierry Dusautoir (France)

A strong ball carrier, Thierry Dusautoir, now 33, was born in Abidjan on the Ivory Coast.

The son of a French father and Ivorian mother, he began rugby at age 16 after a childhood in which his favourite sport was judo.

He debuted for France in a Test against Romania on June 17, 2006. The 75-capped player is arguably best known for his try against the All Blacks in the 2007 World Cup quarter-final at Cardiff in which he made 38 tackles.

Dusautoir also captained France to the 2011 Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand in which he scored France’s only try in the 47th minute.

Michael Jones. Photo: Simon Alekna

Michael Jones (New Zealand)

So talented was Michael Jones, former All Blacks coach John Hart called him “almost the perfect rugby player”.

While his international debut was for Western Samoa in 1986, Jones – now 50 and nicknamed the ‘Ice Man’ because he so often needed ice packs for injuries – first played for New Zealand in the 1987 World Cup, playing four games.

While early in his career he was a brilliant openside flanker, scoring 13 international tries, he moved to the blindside when speed and injuries caught up with him.

His last Test was against Australia at the end of 1989 and in late 1999 he retired.

Richie McCaw. Photo: Getty Images

Richie McCaw (New Zealand)

The current All Blacks captain, Richie McCaw, 34, earned his 142nd Test cap against Australia in Auckland in August, a stand-alone record in world rugby.

Thought of by many as the greatest openside flanker of all time, McCaw is a veritable master at the breakdown.

He also has incredible vision and ability to read a referee’s interpretation of the law that often frustrates the opposition.

McCaw played his first Test in 2001 against Ireland in the All Blacks’ spring tour. After his World Cup debut in 2003, he has led the All Blacks since 2006 and through the 2007 and 2011 World Cups.

George Smith. Photo: Simon Alekna

George Smith (Australia)

George Smith, 35, is still playing professional rugby in a career that began with his debut for the Brumbies in 2000. He recently signed with London club Wasps after two seasons at Lyon in France.

Smith played at the Brumbies for 12 years over two spells – from 2000 to 2010 and then in 2013 when he returned after playing for Toulon in France and Suntory in Japan.

His Test career also kicked off in 2000 against France and led to him earning 111 caps, his last on July 6, 2013, against the British and Irish Lions.

A breakdown wizard, he was long considered the Wallabies’ most valued player, also due to his ability to adapt to numerous positions.

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Shane Watson savours Australia return after most of Ashes on sidelines

Returning Australian all-rounder Shane Watson has expressed his delight at earning selection for the one-day series against England after being overlooked for most of the Ashes.
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Watson has kept a reclusive public profile since being dropped after the first Ashes Test. Since then, he had periodically released videos documenting how he was coping being outside Australia’s first-choice team while still having to remain with the squad in England.

“It’s been a tough couple of weeks, one after us, the Australian team, losing the Ashes, but also not really playing a part, apart from the first Test here in Cardiff, in which unfortunately I didn’t score enough runs and perform well enough to stay in the side, said Watson, who until the second Test of the Ashes was a stalwart for Australia in all formats.

“The last time we played a game for the limited-overs side was the World Cup final, so we’re excited to get back out there . . . I really can’t wait to be able to get out there and have some fun,” said Watson, 34, to unscriptd上海夜网m.

“Fingers crossed it goes well well over the next couple of weeks in England, we’re able to win the one-day series, and hopefully personally I am able to put in a good performances as well. I can’t wait,” he said.

Marcus Stoinis, who is set to make his international debut in Monday night’s Twenty20 fixture against England, has not played in the Big Bash League since February 2014, having missed all of last season’s tournament due to injury. He was an unused member of Delhi’s squad in this year’s IPL.

“I played in the under-19 World Cup with Stoinis in Malaysia in 2008 . . . and he’s certainly come a long way. He’s improved every year,” said captain Steve Smith.

“He’s thrown up good performances first of all for WA then moving over to Victoria it was a big move for him. He’s put the numbers on the board and thoroughly deserves an opportunity here tomorrow.”

Former captain George Bailey, spinner Ashton Agar, batsman Joe Burns and fast-bowler James Pattinson were the players to miss selection for the match.

Smith also confirmed Queensland leg-spinner Cameron Boyce, selected only in the Twenty20 squad, would play on Monday, in what will be his fifth match for Australia since debuting late last year.

“There’s a T20 world cup coming up in not too long, so we need these guys to play as much as they can. He performed really well for us in our one-off T20 we played in the UAE [against Pakistan] and I’m sure he’s looking forward to playing out here tomorrow.”

“He’s got a lot of skill, got a lot of variation. It’s going to be a good test for him bowling out here, with the short, straight boundaries and the short boundary on one side. I’m really looking forward to seeing how he goes.”

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Miners lose edge as NSW government balances profits against damage before approvals

The NSW government has put mining back to a level planning field. Photo: Glenn Hunt Centennial Mine’s operations in the Blue Mountains. Photo: supplied
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The Baird government has amended its mining policy process to give equal billing to a project’s economic, environmental and social impacts when determining approval in a move likely to anger the mining industry.

The plan to change the mining State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) to end the priority being given to economic factors is understood to have won “broad support” when it went to cabinet on Friday.

Planning Minister Rob Stokes said in a statement on Monday that the community had been overwhelmingly in favour of the change.

“Mining plays an important role in the NSW economy, however, we must ensure that our policies reflect the importance of balance in assessing the likely impacts of mining developments,” Mr Stokes said.

“A crucial pillar of our planning system is that decision makers consider environmental impacts on both the natural and built environments, and social and economic impacts in their assessment of development applications,” he said.

The impact of the amended policy, which comes into force on Wednesday, may be on show within days. The Planning Assessment Commission will hold additional public hearings triggered by the revised SEPP for the Springvale coal mine near Lithgow on Thursday and next Monday for Rio Tinto’s Mt Thorley Warkworth mine near Bulga in the Hunter Valley.

The mining sector has previously complained that the removal of economic priority being given to new mines – introduced two years ago – would damage an industry already struggling with poor commodity prices and large-scale job losses.

The government received more than 2400 submissions, 98 per cent of which supported the proposal to remove a provision that had made the significance of the mineral resource “the principal consideration” when determining projects.

‘Real test’

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW welcomed the move to change the elements of the mining SEPP that were introduced by former Resources Minister Chris Hartcher in 2013.

“Premier Mike Baird and Planning Minister Rob Stokes deserve credit for acknowledging that the Hartcher amendments were unacceptable because they put industry interests ahead of local communities and the environment,” Kate Smolksi, the council’s chief executive, said.

Ms Smolski said the SEPP change had been introduced by the O’Farrell government to allow mining giant Rio Tinto to make another application to expand its open-cut coal mine after its plan had been rejected by the Land and Environment Court.

“While we welcome today’s decision, it only takes us back to where we were two years ago, when the community was expressing many substantial concerns about the approval and assessment process for mining projects,” she said.

“The real test will be whether or not the Planning Assessment Commission [PAC] takes this change into account when determining the Warkworth Mt Thorley mine and other mining projects.”

Miners, Greens

Stephen Galilee, chief executive of the NSW Minerals Council, said his organisation had always backed a balanced approach to the assessment of new mining projects.

“Our concern with the proposed changes was that state and regional economic factors would no longer be mandatory factors for consideration in the assessment process,” Mr Galilee said, adding that Mr Stokes has said he will ensure such issues will be examined in PAC determinations.

A spokesman for Rio Tinto echoed such concerns.

“Our applications to continue mining at Mount Thorley Warkworth have been assessed against contemporary environmental, social and economic policies and requirements,” the spokesman said. “These assessments indicate the benefits of the proposals, including continued employment for 1300 people, significantly outweigh the impacts.”

“This is supported by the Department of Planning and Environment which has written to the [PAC] and advised they are satisfied that the benefits outweigh the impacts, after the change to the Mining SEPP, and recommend that the project is in the public interest and should be approved,” he said.

Jeremy Buckingham, the Greens mining spokesman, said the SEPP should never have been altered in the first place.

“We’d like the merits appeals brought back and teeth be given to the Strategic Regional Land-use Policy,” Mr Buckingham said, adding battles over major projects will continue until appropriate areas are designated as “no go zones” for coal and coal seam gas operations.

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Newcastle missing person: Strike Force Retractor formed to find Christopher Daunt

Christopher DauntCHRISTOPHER Daunt was a well respected young builder with close and loving ties to his family and friends when he disappeared halfway through a job five months ago.
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And that is what is frightening the hell out of his relatives and investigators.

A police strike force has been set up to investigate the suspicious disappearance of the 27-year-old Gateshead man, with one obvious line of inquiry centring around Mr Daunt being murdered.

He was last seen at a North Lambton address on Sunday, March 29, and was quickly reported missing by family.

‘‘It is concerning and being treated as suspicious becausehe has literally dropped off the face of the earth,’’ Lake Macquarie crime manager Detective Inspector Craig Davis said on Monday.

‘‘Here is a self-employed man who was there one minute and gone the next.’’

Mr Daunt was a builder who specialised in kitchens and was halfway through installing one in Lake Macquarie when he vanished.

His bank accounts have not been touched, there has been no activity on his mobile phone and no contact with his family or friends.

There is no evidence he had travelled interstate.

‘‘Obviously one of the lines of inquiry is that something sinister has happened,’’ Detective Inspector Davis said.

‘‘He may have taken some time out, but that is out of character and we have found no evidence of that.’’

Strike Force Retractor, comprising Lake Macquarie detectives, has been set up to look into the disappearance.

Mr Daunt is described as being Caucasian, about 180 centimetres tall, of thin build, brown hair and green eyes.

Mr Daunt’s family and friends have turned to social media to try to find him.

The Facebook page ‘‘Help us find Chris Daunt’’ was launched soon after his disappearance on March 29 and has attracted 2450 likes and been shared hundreds of times.

The posts record the family’s heartbreak as they hope Mr Daunt is ‘‘happy and some place warm’’ and share their disappointment that he did not reach out to his mum to wish her happy birthday.

‘‘Wherever he may be, he is always in our thoughts and prayers, and we cherish all the special times we had with him over the years,’’ the page says. ‘‘Not knowing is so difficult for us, and all we want is to have him home.’’

Anyone with information is urged to phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. .

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Two asylum seekers need hospital care after reports of self-harm

The Wickham Point immigration Detention Centre, 30 kilometres southeast of Darwin. Photo: Glenn CampbellAn Afghan man who is believed to have tried to take his own life has been returned to a West Australian detention centre after a week-long stay in a hospital.
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Another asylum seeker tried to commit suicide at Wickham Point Detention Centre on Sunday morning.

A fellow detainee said the Afghan man, believed to be Ali Jaffery, “cut his throat” at the Yongah​ Hill Detention Centre, north-west of Perth, on August 21.

A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection said on August 21, a male detainee was transferred from Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre to hospital, where he received medical treatment.

The spokesman said the man was returned to Yongah Hill on August 28. They would not give any other information, saying it would be “inappropriate to discuss individual medical circumstances”.

The detainee said the man, who was in his late 20s, had been in the “mental health room” and didn’t mingle with anyone.

“There was too much blood,” the detainee said.

“I saw the blanket and his singlet … it was covered in blood. All of it was was red.

“There was blood in the front of the room.”

The detainee said others who had been inside the room saw both the bed and the floor were covered in blood.

He said such incidents of self-harm had become the norm at the centre.

“Every day someone tries to hang themselves,” he said.

“Whatever we do, nothing happens.”

Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition said the man’s visa had been cancelled, but he couldn’t be returned home because he was a refugee or awaiting a decision on his status.

Mr Rintoul said the man was yet another victim of the government’s detention regime.

“If an Australian citizen commits a crime, then they pay whatever penalty the court establishes and … they are considered to have paid their debt to society,” he said.

“But someone who is an asylum seeker or refugee, even if they have completed their sentence … they are subject to immigration detention on top.

“There is no excuse for indefinite detention; it is a recipe for mental illness and attempted suicide.”

Mr Rintoul said it was concerning that the man had been returned to the centre.

“He is back in the circumstances that is likely to mean he will try again [to harm himself].”

The latest incident follows the death of a young Afghan asylum seeker at the Yongah Hill Detention Centre just over four weeks ago.

Mohammad Nasim Najafi​ died on July 31 amid claims he had been denied medical treatment for two weeks despite complaining of heart trouble.

Mr Rintoul said an asylum seeker had also tried to commit suicide at 1.15am on Sunday at the Wickham Point Detention Centre.

A spokeswoman for the Department on Immigration and Border Protection said an incident had occurred at Wickham Point Detention Centre.

“The detainee involved is receiving appropriate medical and mental health support and care,” she said.  For help or information on mental health issues call Lifeline 131 114

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Notting Hill Carnival 2015photos

Notting Hill Carnival 2015 | photos LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A performer in costume during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)
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LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A performer in costume during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A performer in costume during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A performer in costume during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A performer in costume during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: An attendee wears a colourful wig at the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: An attendee wears a colourful wig at the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A performer in costume during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: Attendees dance during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: Attendees dance during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: Attendees dance during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: Attendees dance during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: Attendees dance during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A performer in costume during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A performer in costume during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A performer in costume during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A carnival attendee in costume drinks a beer at the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A performer in costume during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

TweetFacebookHundreds of thousands of people headed to west London over the next two days for Notting Hill Carnival.

Although there is some argument over when the inaugural event was held, the consensus is the first carnival was staged sometime between 1964 and 1966.

Organisers say they are marking the 50th anniversary of one of Europe’s biggest street parties during the 2014, 2015 and 2016 events.

Held every August Bank Holiday weekend, Sunday is reserved for Children’s Day.

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Oliver Sacks: his best quotes

Obituary: Neurologist investigated our brain’s strange waysThe strange case of Dr Oliver Sacks
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Dr Oliver Sacks, who died Sunday morning, aged 82, held a unique place in both the worlds of science and popular culture – his exploration as a neurologist of the quirks of the human brain, and his ability to share his knowledge in an engaging way with a broad audience outside the medical fraternity brought him fame rarely afforded to scientists.

Across his 13 books – and of course the 1990 film adaptation of Awakenings, starring Robin Williams as the doctor himself  – Dr Sacks imparted his findings and encounters with his case studies through accessible, often moving prose, all of which touched on things to which we can all relate.

Here are some of his best words, from his “neurological novels” as he called them, from interviews and from his recently released autobiography, On The Move: A Life.

On religion: “My religion is nature. That’s what arouses those feelings of wonder and mysticism and gratitude in me.”

On sex: “… sex is one of those areas—like religion and politics—where otherwise decent and rational people may have intense, irrational feelings.”

On his brief period of body-building, when he became known at Venice’s Muscle Beach as “Dr Squat”, after setting the California state record in 1961: “I sometimes wonder why I pushed myself so relentlessly in weight lifting. My motive, I think, was not an uncommon one; I was not the ninety-eight-pound weakling of bodybuilding advertisements, but I was timid, diffident, insecure, submissive. I became strong — very strong — with all my weight lifting but found that this did nothing for my character, which remained exactly the same.”

On music: “Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional. It has no power to represent anything particular or external, but it has a unique power to express inner states or feelings. Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation.”

“Now that we can listen to anything we like on our iPods, we have less motivation to go to concerts or churches or synagogues, less occasion to sing together. This is unfortunate, because music-making engages much more of our brains than simply listening. Partly for this reason, to celebrate my 75th birthday last year, I started taking piano lessons (after a gap of more than sixty years). I still have my iPod (it contains the complete works of Bach), but I also need to make music every day.”

On his four-year addiction to amphetamines: “I do not know how much a propensity to addiction is “hardwired” or how much it depends on circumstances or state of mind. All I know is that I was hooked after that night with an amphetamine-soaked joint and was to remain hooked for the next four years. In the thrall of amphetamines, sleep was impossible, food was neglected, and everything was subordinated to the stimulation of the pleasure centers in my brain.”

On being gay, a fact about himself he revealed publicly in February this year: “My analyst tells me he’s never encountered anyone less affected by gay liberation. I remain locked in my cell despite the dancing at the prison gates.”

On life: “People will make a life in their own terms, whether they are deaf or colourblind or autistic or whatever. And their world will be quite as rich and interesting and full as our world.”

Some of his most moving words came just a few months ago, when he revealed in a New York Times article that he had terminal cancer, and only months to live, saying he felt “intensely alive”. “Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure”.

Farewell Dr Sacks. “When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it the fate – the genetic and neural fate – of every human to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.”

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Arthur Sinodinos slams cabinet ministers for ‘political sabotage’ of Abbott government

Senator Arthur Sinodinos has accused colleagues of engaging in political sabotage. Photo: Nic WalkerTony Abbott urged to dump Joe HockeyFarewell Joe, hello Scott Morrison?
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Respected NSW senator Arthur Sinodinos has launched an extraordinary attack on his former ministerial colleagues for leaking against Treasurer Joe Hockey, calling on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to sack anyone found guilty of destabilising the government.

And Social Services Minister Scott Morrison says he “wouldn’t have a clue” which cabinet ministers are briefing against the man he could replace as Treasurer.

Mr Morrison also dismissed suggestions a reshuffle could take place if the Canning byelection goes badly for the Coalition, describing such a move as “speculative nonsense”.

In a rare statement on Monday, Senator Sinodinos said that ministers “should be working hard to win the Canning byelection rather than back grounding against a colleague to scapegoat a potential loss”.

“Holding out the prospect of a reshuffle and even a double dissolution election smacks of defeatism and a lack of focus on the substantive issues of governing,” he said.

“The Prime Minister should sack any minister or adviser who is engaged in such deliberate leaking and destabilisation. We should be working to achieve a swing to us in this by-election.

“Mr Shorten is the real enemy, not fellow Liberals.”

Senator Sinodinos was chief of staff to former prime minister John Howard, and voted in favour of the spill motion against Mr Abbott in February.

Two cabinet ministers have told Fairfax Media that Mr Abbott is being urged to dump Mr Hockey, while an early federal election, to be held in March next year, is also being discussed at the highest levels of the Abbott government.

The move to sacrifice the Treasurer would designed to shore up Mr Abbott’s own leadership and quell a potential backlash after the September 19 poll.

The Liberal Party holds the seat of Canning with a margin of 11.8 per cent but recent polling in the seat shows it is now on a knife edge, with swings to Labor of as much as 10 per cent forecast.

Cabinet ministers have told Fairfax Media that a swing of more than six per cent against the Coalition – which would still see the Liberal Party’s candidate Andrew Hastie win the seat -€“ would be bad news for Mr Abbott and more than 10 per cent would be “dire”.

Mr Morrison told Fairfax radio station 2GB on Monday that Mr Hockey was a great bloke who was doing a tremendous job.

“We are all focused on the issues of jobs, growth and community safety,” he said.

“These stories are better placed in Who magazine, not in a serious newspaper.”

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, meanwhile, said that “instead of criticising Joe Hockey, people should recognise the enormous task he has in repairing the budget that was so trashed by Labor in its six years in office”.

Asked about the prospect of an early election, Ms Bishop said didn’t believe such a move was being considered but did not rule it out.

Former Liberal Leader John Hewson said the leak suggested MPs were positioning should the Canning byelection go badly and warned: “There’s a risk that Canning will go worse than they presently expect.”

“You could imagine them coming from those who aspire to the position and those who want to protect Abbott,” he said.

Dr Hewson did not express a view on whether Mr Hockey should remain Treasurer, but said “a lot of people in the broader community, business people and so on” had publicly criticised his performance since his first budget.

“My view is he’s rusted on to Abbott and vice versa,” he said.

“I don’t think Abbott would easily make that decision unless it was to preserve his own position…the amazing thing is he [Mr Hockey] hasn’t been able to get the economy on the front page. All the turmoil of the last few weeks, changes in world markets and all these things you’d expect it would be front and centre.”

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World’s friendliest cities for tourists: Sydney named number one

Meet the locals … Sydney has been named the world’s friendliest city for tourists. Photo: Simon Alekna Meet the locals … Sydney has been named the world’s friendliest city for tourists. Photo: Simon Alekna
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Meet the locals … Sydney has been named the world’s friendliest city for tourists. Photo: Simon Alekna

Meet the locals … Sydney has been named the world’s friendliest city for tourists. Photo: Simon Alekna

Residents of Australia’s other major cities might disagree, but international travellers have voted Sydney the world’s friendliest city for 2015.

Readers of the highly-regard luxury travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler named Sydney the friendliest city for visitors in the publication’s annual rankings, saying there was “nothing not to like”.

“Such friendly people,” enthused one reader, “so much so that after we met an Australian woman on our flight there, she offered to pick us up at our hotel and spent a whole day showing us her favourite parts of the city.”

Sydney’s highlights for visitors were the usual suspects, with the tours of the harbour and the Harbour Bridge climb cited as highlights.

The city tied last year as the fifth friendliest in the world, when Melbourne was named No.1. But Victoria’s capital failed to make Condé Nast’s top 10 list this year.

Melbourne may not have topped the list for visitors, but it remains No.1 for residents, clocking up the title of ‘world most liveable’ city yet again earlier this month.

Dublin was named second in the friendliness stakes, with the locals praised for their sense of fun and their welcoming pubs and restaurants.

Our neighbours New Zealand also did well, with Queenstown named the third friendliest city and Auckland coming in at No.9.

Condé Nast Traveler’s readers also ranked the least friendly cities, with Caracas, Venezuela rated the worst, followed by Casablanca in Morocco and Guangzhou in China.

The results were determined by the publication’s annual Reader Choice Awards survey, which received over a million votes from nearly 77,000 readers. FRIENDLIEST CITIES

1. Sydney, Australia

2. Dublin, Ireland

3. Queenstown, New Zealand

4. Kraków, Poland

5. Bruges, Belgium

6. Edinburgh, Scotland

7. Kyoto, Japan

8. Budapest, Hungary

9. Auckland, New Zealand

10. Reykjavik, Iceland UNFRIENDLIEST CITIES

1. Caracas, Venezuela

2. Casablanca, Morocco

3. Guangzhou, China

4. Guatemala City, Guatemala

5. Nairobi, Kenya

6. New Delhi, India

7. Cairo, Egypt

8. Moscow, Russia

9. Jakarta, Indonesia

10. Cannes, France

See also: The best things about the world’s most liveable cities See also: Why some cities don’t like tourists any more

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State’s new mine policy unveiled

THE NSW Government has removed a controversial mining policy provision that opened the door to Rio Tinto’s third attempt to expand the Mount Thorley Warkworth mine.
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The amended State Environmental Planning Policy known as the Mining SEPP will come into effect on Wednesday, and ensure the economic, environmental and social impacts of mine projects are appropriately considered, Planning Minister Rob Stokes said.

It replaces amendments in 2013 that gave priority consideration to the economic benefits of mine projects after the Mount Thorley Warkworth proposal was rejected by two courts because of social and environmental impacts.

“Mining plays an important role in the NSW economy, however we must ensure that our policies reflect the importance of balance in assessing the likely impacts of mining developments,” Mr Stokes said.

“A crucial pillar of our planning system is that decision makers consider environmental impacts on both the natural and built environments, and social and economic impacts in their assessment of development applications.’’

More than 2400 public submissions on the proposed change were received, with 98 per cent supporting it.

A report on the change will be published online on Wednesday along with public submissions.

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW welcomed the change.

“Premier Mike Baird and Planning Minister Rob Stokes deserve credit for acknowledging that the amendments introduced by the disgraced former Minister Chris Hartcher were unacceptable because they put industry interests ahead of local communities and the environment,” council chief executive Kate Smolski said.

“Repealing this clause is an important step towards restoring balance to the planning system, and marks a significant victory for communities campaigning against it.’’

While the Nature Conservation Council welcomed the decision, ‘‘it only takes us back to where we were two years ago, when the community was expressing many substantial concerns about the approval and assessment process for mining projects’’.

‘‘The real test will be whether or not the Planning Assessment Commission takes this change into account when determining the Mount Thorley Warkworth mine and other mining projects now in the planning system.”

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