Peter Beattie faces thrashing in Forde, new poll shows

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Poll shock: The former Queensland premier Peter Beattie. Photo: Andrew Meares

Game on: The LNP Member for Forde, Bert Van Manen. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

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Labor’s shock decision to recruit Peter Beattie as its candidate for the federal Queensland electorate of Forde appears to have backfired spectacularly, with the Coalition on track to win the seat in a landslide, The Australian Financial Review reports.

Forde is one of eight marginal seats polled by JWS Research, the results of which will be published exclusively in Saturday’s AFR Weekend.

The poll of four Labor marginal seats and four Coalition marginal seats around the country was conducted using the names of the respective major party candidates in each seat, ensuring maximum accuracy.

The poll shows that in Forde, in south-east Queensland, the incumbent Liberal-National Party Member Bert van Manen is thrashing the former Queensland premier on a two-party preferred basis by 60 per cent to 40 per cent.

This 10-percentage point lead represents a two-party swing of 8.4 per cent to the Coalition in Forde since the 2010 election.

Mr van Manen is beating Mr Beattie on the primary vote by 54 per cent to 33 per cent, while the Greens are on 4 per cent and 9 per cent are undecided.

The primary vote swing to Mr van Manen since the 2010 election is 9.9 per cent.

Mr Rudd announced Mr Beattie would stand in the first week of the campaign, pushing aside Labor’s preselected candidate Des Hardman.

Billed as a coup by Labor, it was hoped in the ALP that Mr Beattie would not only win Forde but drive up Labor’s vote across Queensland, where it needs to pick up at least six seats from the Coalition to have any chance of a victory on September 7.

But the eleventh-hour substitution may achieve the opposite.

The polls shows that Mr van Manen has a 49 per cent approval rating in Forde and a 19 per cent disapproval rating, giving him a net favourability rating of 30 per cent.

By contrast, Mr Beattie has a 35 per cent approval rating and a 51 per cent disapproval rating, giving him a net favourability rating of minus 16 per cent.

Similarly, in Forde, Mr Rudd has a net favourability rating of minus 18 per cent whereas Tony Abbott’s net favourability rating is just minus 1 per cent.

More than half of the Forde respondents, 51 per cent, believe Mr van Manen deserved re-election whereas only 34 per cent believe Mr Beattie deserves to be elected.

The poll was conducted on Thursday night. In all, the views of 4739 people were sampled across eight seats, including 568 voters in Forde.

The margin of error is 4.2 per cent.

Exclusive polling of eight marginal seats across NSW, Victoria and Queensland, out Saturday in AFR Weekend.

View the Financial Review’s Poll of polls, with the latest results from all major, national opinion polls.

The Financial Review Poll of polls

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Apartment of the week: Brighton

Brightonians are both born and made. There are those whose first (and last) steps are taken along Church Street and there are those who begin life outside the large suburb’s borders but aspire to the lifestyle the affluent beachside village allows.
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It is into this context that Brighton has become a popular place for developers to create small blocks of luxurious apartments – it allows retirees to downsize without leaving their familiar patch, and allows those outside the area to move to a place that has beach walks, coffee, shopping, cinemas and restaurants all in one easy place.

This block of four apartments, named ”Villa Blanco”, is one block back from the beach and has three apartments on the ground level and one upstairs. Apartment No.2 is at the back of the ground level and opens from a foyer served by the lift from the basement car park and also accessed via a side garden walk.

Inside, the elevated entrance hall leads down six steps to the large living area that sweeps around to the right. Honey-coloured parquetry floors keep things bright, and large areas of glass offer northern and western light. Bi-fold doors lead to a wraparound patio that has steps leading down to a lap pool and entertainment area. Private and sunny, the poolside area looks a great spot to while away an afternoon.

The kitchen is along one wall and partly sheltered from view by the entrance hall stairs. It has stone bench tops, Ilve appliances, more of the parquetry floors and a cute jelly-bean shaped breakfast bar protruding slightly into the living space.

As in many of these apartments aimed mostly at empty nesters, the main suite is huge – perhaps all the developers and architects recognise that, for the older buyers, ”It’s all about me” is finally true. The large sleeping area opens to a balcony overlooking the pool and, behind the sleeping area, there is a wall of wardrobes, another walk-in wardrobe and a large en suite with a bath.

On the other side of the living area, a hallway leads to two more bedrooms, a laundry, powder room and another bathroom. The bedrooms are light and sunny with built-in wardrobes. Overall, the feeling is of comfort, space, warmth and privacy and with Brighton’s charms outside the door.

2/5 Tennyson Street, Brighton $1.65 million-$1.75 million 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 3 car spacesInspect 12.30-1pm, SaturdayPrivate saleAgent Hodges, 9596 1111Brighton median house price $1.75 millionMedian apartment price $711,000 Source: REIV

Recent sales 15/18 Warleigh Grove, two-bedroom apartment $538,0003/913 Hampton Street, two-bedroom house $702,0004A Vaucluse Street, three-bedroom house $1,635,000

Surrounding area: Brighton is a large bayside suburb that has the beach at its western end, including the famous bathing boxes at the Dendy Street beach.Serviced by large shopping areas on Church and Bay streets that have cinemas, train stations and supermarkets.Close to Elwood in the north and Hampton in the south, Brighton is large enough – and well serviced enough, including many schools – that residents rarely need to leave its borders in search of something.

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Five of a kind: Local harvest

Saffron grown by L & L Menhenett, Arcadia. Photo: Kerrie O’BrienSaffron
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Grown and used for four millennia, saffron is a spice woven into the fabric and food of human history. These days it is known largely for its subtle flavour and its expense: in Australia, wholesale prices of saffron as sold by weight cost more than its equivalent in gold. In the Goulburn Valley, Lisa Menhenett has spent four years building up her crop, sold chiefly at the Echuca Farmers’ Market at the end of each autumn harvest. Its success when grown in Tasmania prompted her to plant a test run in the Goulburn Valley region. The dried stigmas of the saffron crocus form the saffron threads, with a kilogram of saffron requiring between 110,000 and 170,000 flowers. A jar containing 0.05 milligrams sells for $10.

L&L Menhenett, Arcadia, Goulburn Valley; 5826 7211. [email protected]南京夜网

Murray River Salt

A lot is spoken about French salt, but up on the border of Victoria and NSW, the harvest and sale of Murray River Salt has created an international appetite for Victoria’s own subtly pink crystalline mineral. Harvested from an ancient inland aquifer far saltier than the sea, the aquifer water is diverted to shallow lake beds where the sun evaporates the water, leaving only a salt crust that is then cleaned and packaged. The result is a mineral-rich product with a pink glow and subtle, savoury taste that has made it a favourite among chefs (Neil Perry is a vocal fan). While diversion of the aquifer originated as a way of saving the Murray from harmful levels of salinity, the product has become widely regarded courtesy of local trace elements that imbue the crystal flakes.

Murray River Salt, Mildura; 5021 5355. sunsalt南京夜网.au

Wasabi

Wasabi farming has become something of a family tradition for Michelle Dundas: her father turned to the idea after seeing the plants growing in riverbed systems in Japan. Fifteen years later, the farm at Thornton grows vast numbers of the spicy green brassicaceae for restaurants and home growers. Though it’s the long root of the plant that produces the famously spicy wasabi paste, both the stems and leaves are edible. The hydroponic growing methods of earlier days have been left behind in favour of placing the plants in the ground: clearly the Thornton climate is cold enough to mimic growing conditions in Japan. Pots of wasabi can be bought by contacting Dundas at the nursery; it takes about 18 months before the root is large enough to be harvested.

Rubicon Mountain, 1123 Taggerty Road, Thornton; 0409 042 858. [email protected]南京夜网.au

Coriander

A quest for a hobby sent John Pahl and Bev Shawadler in search of their first coriander seedlings following the purchase of a farm in South Leongatha 13 years on. Today, the couple have a modest though very successful commercial enterprise spreading across 3.25 hectares and selling primarily to supermarkets. It’s no longer a hobby. Known for its complex flavour profile spanning the spectrum from citrus to sage, fresh coriander is essential when preparing many south-east Asian dishes. Victoria’s climate supports good growing conditions for three quarters of the year, though high summer temperatures can prove a killer. The pair plant all seedlings by hand, with the herb harvested between four and six weeks after planting.

Herbit Herbs, Leongatha South. [email protected]

Garlic

”Garlic ain’t garlic,” according to Port Campbell-based garlic farmer Simon Illingworth. One of a growing number of Australian farmers relishing the increased appetite for home-grown garlic, Illingworth grows eight varieties of the pungent bulb, representing species from Cuba and Russia to France and California. Farming just one kilometre from the Twelve Apostles, he says garlic thrives in the howling winds and salt spray, resulting in a product of purety and intense flavour, not to mention visual variety. Bulbs range in colour from cream to purple to blood-red. Sold nationally online, he is also producing a range of garlic products including black garlic and dehydrated garlic. With no quarantine required, the product is also free from chemical sprays.

Ethical Farm, 98 Currells Road, Port Campbell; 0431 933 406. garlicworld南京夜网.au

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Mills happy to pass on NBA lessons

Australian basketballers Lauren Jackson and Patrick Mills will play in Canberra on Sunday. Photo: Rohan ThomsonAction Jackson finds form
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He has been schooled by some NBA greats, now Canberra point guard Patty Mills wants to ensure the Australian Boomers are the major beneficiaries of those lessons.

A bench player at San Antonio for the past two years, Mills’ basketball education has been accelerated by Spurs ”big three” Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli.

Their mentorship is helping him adjust from NBA role player to the Boomers ”go-to” man for game two of the Oceania championship against New Zealand in Canberra on Sunday.

”I’ve created a level of friendship with those guys that’s pretty close, and they’ve shared some stuff I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else,” Mills said.

”Two years with the Spurs and playing the NBA finals, what I’m looking to do now is play games where I can put in place what I’ve learned. These two games for the Boomers is the first place to do that.”

Australia overcame a scare against New Zealand in its 70-59 game-one win at Auckland on Wednesday, rallying from seven points down at half-time.

Mills has transformed from student to teacher at the Boomers.

The 25-year-old has taken exciting teenagers Ben Simmons and Dante Exum under his wing, and both showed promising signs in game one.

”I still look to guys like Tony and Manu and how they lead, I’m always taking mental notes on how they do that,” he said.

”This is just another chance for me to take what I’ve learned from the NBA and put it into work here.

”Dante and Benny are bringing a whole new level of energy, we saw that in the first game.

”I can teach those guys what I’ve learned and the experiences I’ve been through, hopefully they get a bit out of it.”

Guard Exum is tipped to be a top-10 pick in next year’s NBA draft should he decide to bypass the US college system.

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Action Jackson finds form

Australian basketballers Lauren Jackson and Patrick Mills will play in Canberra on Sunday. Photo: Rohan Thomson Sport.Australian Boomers’ Patrick Mills and Opals’ Lauren Jackson ahead of their games against NZ on Sunday.Filed: Friday, 16 August 2013 4:03:16 PM Photo by Rohan Thomson, The Canberra Timesrt130816LaurenPatrick-9641.jpg Photo: [email protected]
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Mills happy to pass on NBA lessons

After ending a year of injury hell with a superb performance, a wave of relief washed over Australian Opals superstar Lauren Jackson.

In her comeback from 10 months out with a hamstring problem, Jackson racked up 22 points to steer the Opals to a 66-50 win over New Zealand on Wednesday. The centre was the major difference between the two sides, quashing any doubts she could return to her dominant best.

She is hoping to build on her remarkable comeback when the Opals attempt to sew up a World Cup berth in game two of the Oceania championships in Canberra on Sunday.

”It was the first game in 10 months I think it’s been, it was definitely a sense of relief,” she said.

”I was so happy to get through it and get it done. I feel great physically and haven’t felt this pain-free in so long.

”I’m well aware I need to focus on my fitness, that’s going to come.”

Asked if she was surprised by her immediate impact Jackson replied ”Not really. Brendan [Joyce, Opals coach] has been great. He’s been getting me back on court slowly and I gradually started feeling better about myself, and my game. I didn’t feel underprepared at all.”

Jackson’s stellar display in Auckland was a stinging reminder to the Canberra Capitals what they’ve lost after negotiations for her to play in the upcoming WNBL season fell through.

The 32-year-old was due to begin a $1 million, three-season deal with the Capitals in 2012-13, but injury prevented her from playing a single game.

She was keen to alter her contract to play this season, but terminated negotiations after the Capitals failed to meet a final deadline.

The Opals centre will only get better as Australia prepares for next year’s World Cup in Spain, where the team will look to atone for a worst-ever fifth placing four years ago.

”Obviously that was a disappointment, but it also gave us a chance to reflect on it and figure out the things we need to do better,” Jackson said.

”So much has happened since then, and it’s time to move forward.”

Joyce expects Jackson to take her game to a new level once she adapts to a new-look Opals squad which has played just four games together.

”I think physically and mentally she needed a break, and it’s always tough to get back into it,” he said.

”It’s just pleasing to see her play so well. Lauren and the team haven’t had a lot of time together and it was a great performance.”

They may have missed out on Jackson, but the strong Opals return from Natalie Hurst in game one was an upside for the Capitals.

The club favourite will return this season, and made a statement with 12 points after missing last year’s Olympics squad.

Joyce is an unabashed fan, giving the point guard hope she can revive her international career.

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With Goliath gone, what will become of David’s United?

If Manchester United perform as well in their start to life in the English Premier League without Alex Ferguson as they appear to have done in the transfer market, then they could trot out for their sixth game of the season, at home to West Brom on September 28, with just three or four points and in the bottom half of the table.
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There is time for United to dig deep and add Geoffrey Kondogbia in midfield or Leighton Baines at left-back. There is even time for United to sell Wayne Rooney for a king’s ransom and replace him with Marouane Fellaini or, better still, Wesley Sneijder. But no matter how they perform between now and September 2 when the market closes, United’s choices over the past few weeks seem ill-advised.

Thiago was there for the taking; he’d been a long-term project and United met the player’s father plus his representative, Pere Guardiola. The club did its research about the young man it was proposing to buy – I was a small part of that process. Two different Manchester United people involved in trying to secure Thiago called me and asked about my knowledge of the player, his attitude, his potential and his lifestyle off the pitch.

Wages were fine but the terms that Mazinho and Guardiola wanted, (a fixed-price get-out clause if Thiago wasn’t playing regularly enough) and how to approach the complicated financial situation around the stated buy-out clause in his Barcelona contract, slowed things sufficiently for two things to happen.

First, David Moyes began to assert himself and let United know that while the club had been coveting Thiago for nearly three years, the Italian-born Spaniard of Brazilian parentage (what a playing DNA that is!) wasn’t his top priority.

Second, Pep Guardiola followed up on a phone call he had made to his former pupil, Thiago, four weeks earlier and persuaded Spain’s under-21 European Championship -winning captain to join the European club champion.

Then there is Cesc Fabregas. In late May, Ryan Giggs knew, and was happy to share, that the Spanish World Cup winner was not only United’s No.1 target, he was most likely coming. We are now in mid-August. No Cesc. United haven’t quite given up and, I suppose, when I witnessed Mo Johnston pose with a Celtic shirt at Parkhead one day and then sign for Rangers a couple of nights later, you have to admit that anything can happen.

But from the outset it has appeared that Ed Woodward, replacing United’s market expert David Gill, and Moyes have been fed red (and white) herrings.

Told by Fabregas’ agent Darren Dein and by Robin van Persie that the player wanted a move to Old Trafford, I guess you have to roll your sleeves up and try.

You prepare your finances, you check your sources, you bid. But when the selling club says ”no” over and again and when the player makes no public acknowledgment that he might be open to the move, instead twice knocking the subject out of the park when interviewed about it, then you begin to suspect your initial information.

A week ago Fabregas announced: ”My dream has always been to play at Barca and nothing has changed. I’m very, very happy here and I never thought about leaving.” Players have been known to be economical with the truth, but those aren’t the words to repay United for three bids plus their briefing that the Catalan remains their top priority.

This hasn’t been a great start. It’s also worth pointing out that if the club wanted Thiago and Moyes wanted Fabregas, they patently think United are short in the attacking-midfield department. Just as fate has handed Moyes three thorny player situations, the EPL computer has had a little malevolent cackle at his expense. If microchips could speak this one said: ”So you fancy taking over from Fergie do you?”

Game one, Swansea away, is loseable. Michael Laudrup has bought so well that South Wales will have many party nights this season. From then until West Brom, United have Chelsea at Old Trafford plus Liverpool and Manchester City away.

If things go badly, the visit of Crystal Palace in the middle of it all could be the only safe three points. City have done early and high-quality business; they are stronger and more unified, too.

Chelsea, pining for Rooney, have only moderately improved thus far and I have no doubt whatsoever that they offered United, verbally, a chance to put either David Luiz or Juan Mata, or both, in the Rooney deal they were trying to construct.

Yet Jose Mourinho should benefit from being out of the hornets’ nest he created at Madrid. He’ll know his way around. Moyes knows he will be constantly under the magnifying glass. While the pre-season matches, including the 3-1 home defeat to Sevilla that showed how to pass the ball, have been underwhelming, it’s true that he’s been working his players terrifically hard (with many double sessions) and there will come a moment when that kicks in.

Moyes and United give the impression that it would be healthier for them if the league started in three or four weeks – match fitness refined, off-pitch homework completed. But the club has a shrewd, resourceful, and determined man in charge. Should England’s champions start badly then many in the media and in the stands will shout ”Panic! Disaster!”. He won’t and nor should he.

Mike Phelan, Rene Meulensteen and Eric Steele, the three central coaches under Ferguson, all left the club in the summer. They have been replaced by Steve Round, Jimmy Lumsden and Chris Woods, while Phil Neville and Giggs have also been given coaching roles.

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Zwaanswijk backs Jaliens to lift Jets

PATRICK Zwaanswijk crossed paths with new Jets defender and fellow Dutchman Kew Jaliens many times during their playing careers in Holland.
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Zwaanswijk, 38, spent more than a decade at Utrecht (1998-2004) and NAC Breda (2005-10) before joining the Central Coast Mariners.

Jaliens, four years Zwaanswijk’s junior, spent a similar period at Sparta Rotterdam (1997-99), Willem II (1999-2004) and AZ Alkmaar (2004-11).

Now, after a two-year stopover in Poland, Jaliens is about to venture Down Under and spearhead the Jets defence.

Zwaanswijk retired after the Mariners’ grand final success this year and is regarded as one of best imports to grace the A-League.

He has no doubt Jaliens has the pedigree to be a hit.

‘‘He has always been a strong defender,’’ said Zwaanswijk, who is now the Mariners’ head of youth and community football.

‘‘When I played him he was more a right fullback. In the national team he played there, but at times he played central defence at AZ.

‘‘His motivation will be the key.

‘‘In the past there has been players from all different countries who came here for a holiday and did not get to the standards of the past. Knowing Kew, I’m sure that won’t be a problem for him.’’

Zwaanswijk admitted he initially struggled in Australia and believed the biggest challenge for Jaliens would be adjusting his mentality.

‘‘In Europe, it is a bit higher level tactically, the way we play the game.

‘‘Here you have to be patient and be positive with the players. Not all are at that pedigree that you used to play with.

‘‘In the beginning I got frustrated, but in a good way. I wanted more from the players. I had a good mentor in Arnie [Graham Arnold]. He explained they weren’t there yet and he needed my experience at the back as a leader to help them get to the next level. That is the role of an import, in my view.

‘‘The league is growing and getting to a really good level. It is not a Mickey Mouse competition. Technically it is going up, and that is where we need the foreign players to be an asset.

‘‘Kew was coached by Louis van Gaal and has had great coaches in the past.

‘‘He knows total football. He knows that Dutchy [Jets coach Gary van Egmond] wants to play football out from the back and is one who can lead from the back.’’

● Emerging Jets striker Cameron Joice has been named in a 20-man Australian under-16 side for the ASEAN Championships in Myanmar.The tournament is the start of the Joeys’ build-up to the 2015 FIFA Under-17 World Cup.

Kew Jaliens.

Tasman trip for Speers Point gay couple

MONDAY is the big day for Speers Point’s Trent Kandler and Paul McCarthy, who will be among the first same-sex couples to marry in New Zealand.
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SET FOR VOWS: Trent Kandler, left, and Paul McCarthy. Picture: Dominion Post

Same-sex marriage becomes legal next week, and Mr Kandler, a teacher, and Mr McCarthy, a vet, will wed at Te Papa national museum in Wellington from 9am.

It will be one of the country’s first gay marriages since the Marriage Amendment Bill passed.

Thirty-one same-sex couples, including six from Wellington, 14 from Auckland, one in Manukau, six in Christchurch and four in Rotorua, have told Births, Deaths and Marriages they intend to wed on Monday.

Mr Kandler and Mr McCarthy’s whirlwind wedding is the result of a last-minute entry into a tourism campaign, which offered an all-expenses paid trip for a same-sex couple to the Kiwi capital.

“We’re doing it to show our love for each other and we’re doing it really because we don’t have the opportunity back home, not even for a civil union,” Mr McCarthy said.

However, the flow of same-sex tourism from across the ditch may be brief, with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announcing this week that he was throwing his support behind marriage equality.

By then, Mr Kandler and Mr McCarthy, who got engaged two years ago, were already about to wing their way to New Zealand.

They felt sure many other Australians would follow their footsteps down the aisle, regardless of law changes at home.

They will proudly don pink ties to match their bridesmaids’ dresses on the special day, Mr McCarthy said.

A threefold leap in the number of marriage licence application forms downloaded overseas in just four days has taken New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs staff by surprise.

A total of 172 application forms had been downloaded by people from all over the globe between Monday and Thursday this week, including 19 for civil unions.

Almost half came from Australia.

Births Deaths and Marriages registrar-general Jeff Montgomery said registrars reported that same-sex couples had lined up outside registry offices nationwide yesterday to pick up marriage licences.

“They were really excited, congratulating each other,” he said.

Star helps Kurri get over the line

KURRI Kurri hired gun Mark Khierallah would consider it mission accomplished if the Bulldogs win their next two games and book a berth in the Newcastle Rugby League semi-finals.
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The man known as ‘‘Killer’’ will play his second-last match for Kurri today in the competition’s fiercest derby against the Goannas at Cessnock Sportsground.

He will return to France after the final-round game against Maitland next Saturday to begin pre-season training with Toulouse Olympique.

Kurri Kurri officials had hoped to extend his loan deal to cover the play-offs, but Toulouse want Khierallah fit and rested for their season opener on September 22.

The Bulldogs are fifth on the ladder, ahead of Maitland on for-and-against by a point.

Wins over Cessnock and Maitland will guarantee a spot in the five, but one will leave them relying on other results to go their way.

‘‘If I can get the boys over the line in the next two games, I’d consider that I’ve done as much as I could possibly do, then it’s just up to the boys from there on,’’ Khierallah said.

‘‘I think they’re preparing for it. It was always a big call if I was to stay for the finals.’’

Since arriving from Toulouse on loan in round nine, Khierallah has been a revelation at five-eighth.

Along with fullback Nathan Ross, he has injected class in the Bulldogs backline.

‘‘There’s plenty of talent there to cover me,’’ he said.

‘‘George [Ndaira] is there and BJ [Ben Jeffries] as well.

‘‘We’re starting to get a roll on, and everyone knows their job, so it’s made my weekends a whole lot easier.

‘‘Whoever slots in there, I’m sure the boys will help him out and do whatever we do every other week.’’

Today’s Coalfields derby will be the home farewell for Goannas local team of the century winger Chris Pyne, and it could also be the last game local coach of the century Todd Edwards holds the clipboard at Cessnock Sportsground.

During Edwards’s tenure at Cessnock the Goannas have had the wood over their neighbours. But he said he has never seen a stronger Kurri Kurri side on paper.

A priority for the Goannas will be containing Ross, who cut Macquarie to pieces last week.

‘‘You’ve just got to be honest up the middle with Rossy,’’ Edwards said.

‘‘You know he’s coming and we know what he’s about. He’s a class player, and that’s why I tried hard to get him here.

‘‘We know what we’re in for, so we’ve got to be squeaky clean and not cut corners.’’

He said there would be a strong focus on his side’s kicking game to limit Ross’s impact.

‘‘That’s an area of our game that isn’t strong, so it’s got to be good tomorrow,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve got some things in place and we know what we’ve got to do to negate him.’’

Kurri’s Mark Khierallah will return to France before the finals. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

EDITORIAL: Time for covered wagons

A SENATE inquiry into the impacts on health of air quality in Australia has backed the Newcastle Herald’s call for the covering of coal rail wagons.
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As a first response, the peak body for mining in this state, the NSW Minerals Council, has attacked the report as ‘‘Greens dominated’’ and ‘‘predictably anti-mining’’.

Arguing there is no evidence in the report to show how the committee ‘‘has logically come to its recommendation’’ to cover coal wagons, the minerals council cites long-term monitoring by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, which found coal accounted for less than 14per cent of fine PM2.5 particles in the air at Mayfield.

In contrast, the committee cites a submission it received from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to say that mining for coal accounts for 27per cent of PM2.5 particles in Newcastle, rising to 66per cent in the Upper Hunter.

In debates such as this, the temptation to ‘‘cherry pick’’ the statistics that best suit a particular argument can be difficult to resist, but there is no doubt – in 2013 – that particulate emissions can have a negative impact on human health. What’s more, as the EPA submission states, fine particulate emissions have risen by at least 20per cent in the past 20years, largely because of increased coalmining in the Hunter Valley.

In its chapter on coal, the committee report recognises the economic benefits of coal but says covering coal wagons is one of the ‘‘concrete steps’’ the industry should take to minimise its impact on communities.

The minerals council says the recommendation to cover the wagons ignores the evidence that shows coal dust from trains to be a relatively small source of particulates. In its submission to the inquiry, it argued against covering wagons, saying it would be ‘‘extremely expensive’’ and have ‘‘little or no effect on dust and air quality near rail lines.’’

As the committee noted, things appeared to be different north of the border, with the Queensland Resources Council acknowledging that chemical ‘‘veneering’’ of coal loads had significantly reduced dust emissions.

Whether coal companies like it or not, history shows that environmental standards tend inexorably to tighten. A ‘‘social licence’’ to operate is an important part of doing business in the 21st century.

Inevitably, it comes down to a simple proposition. We do not allow the relatively tiny amount of coal that is hauled on our roads to be moved uncovered. Why, then, should we allow it on rail?

IAN KIRKWOOD: Monotony and missteps

I DON’T know if they slipped something into the water, but the second week of the election campaign seemed a lot quieter than the first.
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Despite a plethora of politicians criss-crossing the country from Corangamite to Capricornia, and from Forrest to Fraser – or Fowler – very little of consequence seemed to eventuate.

Sunday night’s soporific leaders’ debate set the tone. The biggest controversy to emerge from the first, and possibly only, head-on clash of the campaign between the incumbent, Kevin Rudd, and the likely victor, Tony Abbott, was that Kevin ‘‘cheated’’ by taking notes into a supposedly ‘‘no-notes’’ arena.

Mr Rudd said he needed notes because there was a limit to how many of Mr Abbott’s ‘‘three-word slogans’’ he could remember without help.

But he was outdone in the (well-rehearsed) wit stakes by Liberal Senator Mathias Cormann, who said: “Last night Tony Abbott was looking like a leader; Kevin Rudd was looking like a reader.”

Score that as snappy slogans 1, Rudd 0.

As the days progressed – slowly – anyone looking for policy prescriptions would have been sorely disappointed. Time and again, Mr Abbott opened his mouth to say something serious only to put his foot in it.

First, on Monday, came the now infamous ‘‘suppository of wisdom’’ line.

‘‘No one, however smart, however well-educated, however experienced, is the suppository of all wisdom,’’ Mr Abbott said to an audience of Liberal Party faithful in Melbourne.

Veteran Liberal MP Philip Ruddock, who is travelling with Mr Abbott as a campaign mentor and minder, reportedly ‘‘squirmed’’ at the reference.

The next day, smooth Tony was at it again, with his appraisal of the ‘‘sex appeal’’ of the Coalition’s candidate for Lindsay, Fiona Scott.

Asked what Ms Scott and a former Liberal holder of the same western Sydney seat, Jackie Kelly, had in common, Mr Abbott said: “They’re young, they’re feisty, I think I can probably say they have a bit of sex appeal, and they are just very, very connected to the local area.”

As if that wasn’t enough, the media pack also realised the Liberal candidate for nearby Greenway, Jaymes Diaz, was in the crowd.

Mr Diaz scored national coverage for all the wrong reasons in the first week of the campaign for a failure to know anything about the Coalition’s six-point asylum-seeker policy.

So, coverage of Tuesday’s campaigning was reduced to endless repeats of the Abbott-Scott moment – including her somewhat surprised reaction as his words sunk in – together with footage of Mr Diaz hightailing it for the safety of a campaign car.

On the surface, you’d have to score those events as negatives for Mr Abbott, who is already fighting to overcome an image of himself as supposedly too ‘‘blokey’’ for the Lodge.

Yes, I know I’m winding the clock back 30years to 1983. But being blokey never cost Bob Hawke too many votes, and he left Abbott in the shade when it came to inappropriate comments about women.

More relevantly, though, the real impact of Mr Abbott’s comments is that they focused almost all of the prime-time attention on him, and away from the message Kevin Rudd is still desperately trying to sell.

I’m not saying that was the Coalition’s plan all along – ‘‘get Abbott out there to make a fool of himself and we’ll suck all of the air out of Kevin for the day’’.

But it certainly wasn’t how Labor would have wanted this week to go.

And the ALP sure didn’t need former leader Mark Latham sticking his bib into things by suggesting Mr Abbott must have had ‘‘beer goggles’’ on to say what he said about his candidate.

For a man who writes insightfully about Labor in his regular newspaper columns, he certainly is a loose cannon in front of a microphone.

Newcastle Airport fine slammed

THE lack of a ‘‘pick-up’’ zone at Newcastle Airport is hitting motorists in the pocket, with some being charged more than $500 for stopping illegally to collect visitors to the region.
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Michael Graham, who runs a storage-tank business at Tomago, collects employees from the airport at least once a week and said the parking situation was resulting in ridiculous fines and ‘‘price gouging’’ by the Port Stephens Council.

Mr Graham was fined $506 last month for stopping in a disabled zone to pick up an employee.

‘‘The vehicle was stopped for less than 10 seconds whilst the employee jumped in the car,’’ he said.

‘‘If that cost me $50, I’d think ‘fair enough’, but $506 is steep for five seconds and no disruption to traffic.’’

A council spokeswoman said there was no tolerance to illegal parking in disabled access spaces across NSW.

Over the past 12 months, rangers have issued 280 fines at Newcastle Airport, with 13 of those for parking illegally in disabled spaces.

Mr Graham said when he arrived, there was no free parking, other than near the departures area, which was clogged with cars.

Newcastle Airport aviation and business development manager David Nye said there was no pick-up zone because the airport did not have expansive terminal frontage.

‘‘We are looking at a plan within the next six months where we will be able to create space at the front of the terminal for a free pick-up zone,’’ he said.

Mr Nye said the airport discouraged people from stopping in front of the arrivals area because it was often congested.

‘‘We offer $2.50 parking for 30 minutes within walking distance to the terminal,’’ he said.

The airport announced on Tuesday another 60 car spaces in its Silver 1 and 3 parks near the terminal.

Michael Graham intends contesting a $506 fine for illegally using a disabled parking space at Newcastle Airport.

Housewife with higher purpose

PROFESSIONAL psychic Jackie Gillies and rock star husband Ben have swapped the Newcastle beaches for the bright lights and microscope of reality television in Melbourne.
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Mrs Gillies, who married the Silverchair drummer two years ago in Newcastle, began filming The Real Housewives of Melbourne last month and is emerging as the livewire to watch.

But the psychic, who has a two-year-waiting list for clients, is not afraid of being scrutinised on television.

‘‘I’m a very secure person,’’ she said. ‘‘I think every human being is worried about being judged but you must continue to be who you are and be yourself. I need to do my readings; my higher purpose is helping others.’’

One fan Mrs Gillies had no problem securing was her husband Ben.

The drummer and now frontman of his own, called Bento, has been supportive of his wife appearing on the show and regularly plugs the program on Twitter.

‘‘Proud of my lady,’’ he tweeted this week.

Thirty-three-year-old Mrs Gillies has continued to operate her psychic business in Melbourne and said that while she misses the Newcastle beaches, the couple are enjoying the cafes and bars of Melbourne.

‘‘We were moving to Melbourne anyway before I was approached to do the show,’’ she said.

‘‘Ben wanted a creative outlet for the second album for Bento. We are like gypsies; we live in the moment.’’

The couple, who formerly lived in a house at Merewether overlooking the beach, have also started their own line of signature cocktails in Melbourne.

Mrs Gillies said she was a huge fan of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills TV show and is excited to be a part of the Australian version.

‘‘So far, so good,’’ she said of the show.

‘‘All the women are beautiful and intelligent and successful in their own right.’’

The Real Housewives of Melbourne will feature six housewives, including co-founder of the Liberty Belle Skin Centre Andrea Moss and top Melbourne barrister Gina Liano, who enjoy the lavish and pampered lifestyle of Melbourne.

‘‘What woman doesn’t love to shop?’’ Mrs Gillies said.

Jackie Gillies.