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Thursday, February 28, 2013


Jesse Adams Stein March 01, 2013


'The ugliest building in Sydney' ... the UTS building.

'The ugliest building in Sydney' ... the UTS building. Photo: Quentin Jones



Widely regarded as the ''ugliest building in Sydney'', the UTS tower is usually the subject of derision and complaint. It's the ungainly middle finger on Broadway, evidence that modernist architects in the 1960s were out of touch with humanity, complicit in an architectural ''up yours'' to all things beautiful.


But is it all that bad? I might be alone here, but I rather like the UTS tower. I may even go so far as to say I love it.


Designed in 1964 by the NSW Government Architects Office, it was intended as a suite of seven towers, for the then NSW Institute of Technology. The plan was reduced to three, and in the end to a single tower of 27 storeys, with a truncated second building beside it. The tower and its chunky little brother are bound together by a podium, and together these structures are a significant example of brutalist modernism in Sydney. That fact alone makes them architecturally meaningful, but there is more to be valued here than architectural history.


The carefully wrought Jenga-like stacks of the tower give it more of a horizontal emphasis than a vertical one, despite the fact that it is a tall building. Then there are those smooth corners - the doorways and windows are accented by satisfying rounded edges.


But it is within the tower's surprisingly grand interior that the building really excels. As you move through the foyer, you can palpably experience the spatial contrasts: low, compressed ceilings open up to a cavernous foyer. The quality of the light shifts from dark, uncomfortable corridors, into brighter spaces, with square skylights illuminating the space. The air is cool and smells a little stony. It feels monumental in a secular, academic sort of way, making the design oddly appropriate for its function.


A common criticism of the tower was that its design deliberately discouraged congregations of protesting students. Although there is no proof this was part of the architectural agenda, an office block has never facilitated campus socialising (of any sort) very well, and ironically this is something that UTS is now spending a lot of money attempting to redress.



The most dysfunctional aspects of the tower building have lately been improved upon. UTS's city campus master plan has included a major transformation of the podium. Although UTS has confirmed that there are no plans to transform the exterior any time soon, the interior will be upgraded.


For mid-century purists like me, this means sacrificing some of the most lovably offensive modernist interior detailing, but most will probably see these improvements in a positive light.


After all, the best aspects of modernist architecture involve adaptation over time.


These days, the UTS tower has a new next-door neighbour: One Central Park, the tallest building in the Frasers Property development at the old Carlton & United brewery site. The towers are roughly the same height.


The presence of this new tower has transformed Broadway's architectural hand gesture from a one-fingered one into a two-fingered one, perhaps with a similar message.


Jesse Adams Stein is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at UTS.




Two thumbs up for Sydney's 'ugliest building' - Sydney Morning Herald


Jesse Adams Stein March 01, 2013


'The ugliest building in Sydney' ... the UTS building.

'The ugliest building in Sydney' ... the UTS building. Photo: Quentin Jones



Widely regarded as the ''ugliest building in Sydney'', the UTS tower is usually the subject of derision and complaint. It's the ungainly middle finger on Broadway, evidence that modernist architects in the 1960s were out of touch with humanity, complicit in an architectural ''up yours'' to all things beautiful.


But is it all that bad? I might be alone here, but I rather like the UTS tower. I may even go so far as to say I love it.


Designed in 1964 by the NSW Government Architects Office, it was intended as a suite of seven towers, for the then NSW Institute of Technology. The plan was reduced to three, and in the end to a single tower of 27 storeys, with a truncated second building beside it. The tower and its chunky little brother are bound together by a podium, and together these structures are a significant example of brutalist modernism in Sydney. That fact alone makes them architecturally meaningful, but there is more to be valued here than architectural history.


The carefully wrought Jenga-like stacks of the tower give it more of a horizontal emphasis than a vertical one, despite the fact that it is a tall building. Then there are those smooth corners - the doorways and windows are accented by satisfying rounded edges.


But it is within the tower's surprisingly grand interior that the building really excels. As you move through the foyer, you can palpably experience the spatial contrasts: low, compressed ceilings open up to a cavernous foyer. The quality of the light shifts from dark, uncomfortable corridors, into brighter spaces, with square skylights illuminating the space. The air is cool and smells a little stony. It feels monumental in a secular, academic sort of way, making the design oddly appropriate for its function.


A common criticism of the tower was that its design deliberately discouraged congregations of protesting students. Although there is no proof this was part of the architectural agenda, an office block has never facilitated campus socialising (of any sort) very well, and ironically this is something that UTS is now spending a lot of money attempting to redress.



The most dysfunctional aspects of the tower building have lately been improved upon. UTS's city campus master plan has included a major transformation of the podium. Although UTS has confirmed that there are no plans to transform the exterior any time soon, the interior will be upgraded.


For mid-century purists like me, this means sacrificing some of the most lovably offensive modernist interior detailing, but most will probably see these improvements in a positive light.


After all, the best aspects of modernist architecture involve adaptation over time.


These days, the UTS tower has a new next-door neighbour: One Central Park, the tallest building in the Frasers Property development at the old Carlton & United brewery site. The towers are roughly the same height.


The presence of this new tower has transformed Broadway's architectural hand gesture from a one-fingered one into a two-fingered one, perhaps with a similar message.


Jesse Adams Stein is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at UTS.





Summer might be a fading memory for Sydneysiders but not for the record keepers.


Nation-wide, the December-February stretch broke many highs for heat, with the average maximum of 35.7 degrees shading the previous record set 30 years ago by 0.2 degrees. It was also 1.4 degrees above the long-term average.


"It was hot just about everywhere," Blair Trewin, senior climatologist with the weather bureau, said.


"It was in the top 10 for every mainland state," Dr Trewin said. "Six of the hottest 10 summers (nationally) have happened in the last decade."


For Sydney, rainfall and temperatures were above average for both February and summer.


At Observatory Hill, the daily average maximum for the three months of 26.6 degrees, and 26.2 degrees for last month, were respectively 1 and 0.4 degrees above normal.


Rain last month was almost 40 per cent higher than normal for February at 165.4mm, while the three-month total was 17 per cent above average at 348.4 mm, the bureau said.


The city and the state can expect rainfall at or above average for the autumn, Dr Coutts-Smith said.


Fourteen of the 112 locations deployed by the bureau to monitor long-term climate conditions broke records for the hottest day, the most for any summer. Sydney and Hobart broke daily temperature records, posting 45.8 degrees and 41.8 degrees, respectively.


For NSW, it was the fifth hottest summer on record, with average maximums of 33.2 degrees, a full two degrees above normal. Rainfall for the state was about 7 per cent below average despite rain gauges being 28 per cent fuller than normal in February alone.


"The coasts and ranges had a very different story to tell from the rest of the state," Aaron Coutts-Smith, head of climate monitoring at the bureau, said.


While the state's Northern Rivers region continues to mop up from two big floods in just over a month, inland towns such as Bourke registered record-low rainfall tallies for summer.


Nationwide, the weather bureau said the average temperature for summer was 28.6 degrees, 1.1 degrees above normal, shading the previous summer record of 1997-98 by 0.1 degrees.


The September-February period, though, was also the hottest since records began in 1910.


The records fell even though the dominant El Nino-Southern Oscillation weather pattern over the Pacific remained in a neutral phase. The three previous record summers were El Nino years, as were six of the hottest nine.


“On average over Australia, El Nino years tend to come out with a warmer summer,” Andrew Watkins, manager of climate prediction services at the bureau, said. “The January heatwave was off the scale when you look at the successive days of high temperatures.”


Dr Trewin said taking mid- to high-emissions scenarios for greenhouse gas output, the past summer will probably rank as an average one in 40 years' time. By the end of the century, the 2012/13 summer will probably "sit at the very cooler end of normal", he said.




Poll: How would you rate Sydney's weather over summer?




Too hot


16%



Too wet


15%



Too hot and wet


25%



Too cold


2%



Nice - a good mix


13%



Better than last summer!


29%




Total votes: 480.



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You will need Cookies enabled to use our Voting Feature.





Disclaimer:


These polls are not scientific and reflect the opinion only of visitors who have chosen to participate.




Sweaty summer fades as wet autumn looms - Sydney Morning Herald


Summer might be a fading memory for Sydneysiders but not for the record keepers.


Nation-wide, the December-February stretch broke many highs for heat, with the average maximum of 35.7 degrees shading the previous record set 30 years ago by 0.2 degrees. It was also 1.4 degrees above the long-term average.


"It was hot just about everywhere," Blair Trewin, senior climatologist with the weather bureau, said.


"It was in the top 10 for every mainland state," Dr Trewin said. "Six of the hottest 10 summers (nationally) have happened in the last decade."


For Sydney, rainfall and temperatures were above average for both February and summer.


At Observatory Hill, the daily average maximum for the three months of 26.6 degrees, and 26.2 degrees for last month, were respectively 1 and 0.4 degrees above normal.


Rain last month was almost 40 per cent higher than normal for February at 165.4mm, while the three-month total was 17 per cent above average at 348.4 mm, the bureau said.


The city and the state can expect rainfall at or above average for the autumn, Dr Coutts-Smith said.


Fourteen of the 112 locations deployed by the bureau to monitor long-term climate conditions broke records for the hottest day, the most for any summer. Sydney and Hobart broke daily temperature records, posting 45.8 degrees and 41.8 degrees, respectively.


For NSW, it was the fifth hottest summer on record, with average maximums of 33.2 degrees, a full two degrees above normal. Rainfall for the state was about 7 per cent below average despite rain gauges being 28 per cent fuller than normal in February alone.


"The coasts and ranges had a very different story to tell from the rest of the state," Aaron Coutts-Smith, head of climate monitoring at the bureau, said.


While the state's Northern Rivers region continues to mop up from two big floods in just over a month, inland towns such as Bourke registered record-low rainfall tallies for summer.


Nationwide, the weather bureau said the average temperature for summer was 28.6 degrees, 1.1 degrees above normal, shading the previous summer record of 1997-98 by 0.1 degrees.


The September-February period, though, was also the hottest since records began in 1910.


The records fell even though the dominant El Nino-Southern Oscillation weather pattern over the Pacific remained in a neutral phase. The three previous record summers were El Nino years, as were six of the hottest nine.


“On average over Australia, El Nino years tend to come out with a warmer summer,” Andrew Watkins, manager of climate prediction services at the bureau, said. “The January heatwave was off the scale when you look at the successive days of high temperatures.”


Dr Trewin said taking mid- to high-emissions scenarios for greenhouse gas output, the past summer will probably rank as an average one in 40 years' time. By the end of the century, the 2012/13 summer will probably "sit at the very cooler end of normal", he said.




Poll: How would you rate Sydney's weather over summer?




Too hot


16%



Too wet


15%



Too hot and wet


25%



Too cold


2%



Nice - a good mix


13%



Better than last summer!


29%




Total votes: 480.



Would you like to vote?

You will need Cookies enabled to use our Voting Feature.





Disclaimer:


These polls are not scientific and reflect the opinion only of visitors who have chosen to participate.





Dimitri De Angelis, with actress Sophie Monk, pretended to be a music industry executive.

Dimitri de Angelis, with actress Sophie Monk. Photo: Supplied



A Sydney conman who duped investors out of more than $8 million and pretended to be friends with celebrities like former US president Bill Clinton, has been jailed for a maximum of 12 years.


Judge Richard Cogswell spent two hours sentencing Dimitri de Angelis in the NSW District Court on Friday as he detailed the extravagant lifestyle he had fabricated.


Justice Cogswell said de Angelis duped potential investors by showing photoshopped pictures of himself with famous people.


"In business together" ... Lachlan Murdoch and Dimitri De Angelis.

Photshopped ... Lachlan Murdoch and Dimitri de Angelis. Photo: Supplied



"The photographs depicted himself with no lesser persons than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, His Holiness the Pope John Paul II, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, US presidents George Bush senior, George W Bush and Bill Clinton and Australian prime ministers John Howard and Kevin Rudd," Justice Cogswell told the court.


"He represented to people that he owned fleets of luxury cars as well as mansions and luxurious homes in Sydney and Melbourne.


"Part of the proposition that he put to investors was that every one per cent in his company would be worth $6 million when the company went public."


Dimitri De Angelis and former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev.

Dimitri de Angelis and former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev. Photo: Supplied



Justice Cogswell said de Angelis's company was actually "in financial crisis" but he was "very skilled" at deceiving his victims.


De Angelis pleaded guilty to 16 fraud charges last year.


The former Qantas steward also rented Rolls-Royces, luxury holiday homes and offices to fool investors into thinking he was a wealthy businessman and that his recording company Emporium Music was a "foolproof scheme".


The amazing Dimitri De Angelis and David Hasselloff.

Dimitri de Angelis and David Hasselhoff. Photo: Supplied



Those stung by de Angelis included Anne Keating, the sister of former prime minister Paul Keating, Sydney's former deputy lord mayor Marcelle Hoff, experienced businessmen and lawyers.


Justice Cogswell said he acknowledged that Paris-born de Angelis might have narcissistic personally disorder and that he had had a tough childhood in France, having spent most of it in state care.


He will be eligible for parole in May 2020.


Dimitri de Angelis

Jailed .. Dimitri de Angelis Photo: Janie Barrett



AAP



Sydney conman who photoshopped pictures of himself with famous people gets ... - Sydney Morning Herald


Dimitri De Angelis, with actress Sophie Monk, pretended to be a music industry executive.

Dimitri de Angelis, with actress Sophie Monk. Photo: Supplied



A Sydney conman who duped investors out of more than $8 million and pretended to be friends with celebrities like former US president Bill Clinton, has been jailed for a maximum of 12 years.


Judge Richard Cogswell spent two hours sentencing Dimitri de Angelis in the NSW District Court on Friday as he detailed the extravagant lifestyle he had fabricated.


Justice Cogswell said de Angelis duped potential investors by showing photoshopped pictures of himself with famous people.


"In business together" ... Lachlan Murdoch and Dimitri De Angelis.

Photshopped ... Lachlan Murdoch and Dimitri de Angelis. Photo: Supplied



"The photographs depicted himself with no lesser persons than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, His Holiness the Pope John Paul II, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, US presidents George Bush senior, George W Bush and Bill Clinton and Australian prime ministers John Howard and Kevin Rudd," Justice Cogswell told the court.


"He represented to people that he owned fleets of luxury cars as well as mansions and luxurious homes in Sydney and Melbourne.


"Part of the proposition that he put to investors was that every one per cent in his company would be worth $6 million when the company went public."


Dimitri De Angelis and former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev.

Dimitri de Angelis and former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev. Photo: Supplied



Justice Cogswell said de Angelis's company was actually "in financial crisis" but he was "very skilled" at deceiving his victims.


De Angelis pleaded guilty to 16 fraud charges last year.


The former Qantas steward also rented Rolls-Royces, luxury holiday homes and offices to fool investors into thinking he was a wealthy businessman and that his recording company Emporium Music was a "foolproof scheme".


The amazing Dimitri De Angelis and David Hasselloff.

Dimitri de Angelis and David Hasselhoff. Photo: Supplied



Those stung by de Angelis included Anne Keating, the sister of former prime minister Paul Keating, Sydney's former deputy lord mayor Marcelle Hoff, experienced businessmen and lawyers.


Justice Cogswell said he acknowledged that Paris-born de Angelis might have narcissistic personally disorder and that he had had a tough childhood in France, having spent most of it in state care.


He will be eligible for parole in May 2020.


Dimitri de Angelis

Jailed .. Dimitri de Angelis Photo: Janie Barrett



AAP




AAP


Promising Wests Tigers front-rower Mosese Fotuaika, found dead in a Sydney townhouse, has been described as a player who had the potential to make it to the top in rugby league.


A NSW police spokesperson said officers were called to a townhouse in the south western Sydney suburb of Merrylands at about 6.50pm AEDT on Thursday night.


They confirmed a 20-year-old man was found dead inside the premises.


The death was not being treated as suspicious.


A member of the Tigers' premiership-winning under-20 team last year, Fotuaika had looked on course to make his senior debut after playing in several trial matches.


NZRL high performance general manager Tony Kemp said it was a sad day for the sport and offered condolences on behalf of the national organisation to Fotuaika's family.


Kemp was sure the 20-year-old had the goods to reach the top.


"He got player of the day last year in the NYC (National Youth Competition) final, so he was on track," he said.


"Most of our national team now have been Junior Kiwis and Mosese was a Junior Kiwi last year, so he had plenty of potential."


Kemp said he had no further details about Fotuaika's death apart from what was in the media, but said mental health was one area that New Zealand sport needed to spend more time on.


The Wests Tigers' official Facebook site posted notice of the loss while players such as Tim Moltzen and Aaron Woods offered their condolences on Twitter.


Fotuaika attended Keebra Park High, the same school as Tigers playmaker Benji Marshall.



Dead prop had a promising future: NZRL - The Age


AAP


Promising Wests Tigers front-rower Mosese Fotuaika, found dead in a Sydney townhouse, has been described as a player who had the potential to make it to the top in rugby league.


A NSW police spokesperson said officers were called to a townhouse in the south western Sydney suburb of Merrylands at about 6.50pm AEDT on Thursday night.


They confirmed a 20-year-old man was found dead inside the premises.


The death was not being treated as suspicious.


A member of the Tigers' premiership-winning under-20 team last year, Fotuaika had looked on course to make his senior debut after playing in several trial matches.


NZRL high performance general manager Tony Kemp said it was a sad day for the sport and offered condolences on behalf of the national organisation to Fotuaika's family.


Kemp was sure the 20-year-old had the goods to reach the top.


"He got player of the day last year in the NYC (National Youth Competition) final, so he was on track," he said.


"Most of our national team now have been Junior Kiwis and Mosese was a Junior Kiwi last year, so he had plenty of potential."


Kemp said he had no further details about Fotuaika's death apart from what was in the media, but said mental health was one area that New Zealand sport needed to spend more time on.


The Wests Tigers' official Facebook site posted notice of the loss while players such as Tim Moltzen and Aaron Woods offered their condolences on Twitter.


Fotuaika attended Keebra Park High, the same school as Tigers playmaker Benji Marshall.




Arthur Sinodinos

Oversight … Arthur Sinodinos. Photo: Andrew Meares



Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos, already in strife over his involvement in a company with alleged links to embattled Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid, last night apologised ''unreservedly'' to Federal Parliament for failing to declare interests in several other companies.


Mr Sinodinos blamed an ''innocent oversight'' for failing to declare his directorship of start-up healthcare company Move2Live Pty Ltd, which he said had not traded and from which he had now resigned.


The senator also failed to record his interest in Firestick ICT Pty Ltd, which provided IT services to a non-for-profit company that helps indigenous people finding employment.


A fellow director in Move2Live is Santo Santoro, a minister in the Howard government who resigned in disgrace over his failure to properly declare his shareholdings. Mr Santoro was also a director of Australian Water Holding's Queensland subsidiary. Mr Sinodinos was also a director was a director of AWH.


Mr Sinodinos said that although it was well known he was president of the NSW Liberal Party until December 2012, he should have disclosed his directorship of three entities related to the party.


He said that his amendments to his statement of registrable interest was prompted by an inquiry from a journalist.


''By making a full breast of this,'' he said he hoped it would serve as a warning for other politicians to be more careful and that in the future he would be ''much more punctilious and rigorous''.


In the rest of his statement Mr Sinodinos also tried to distance himself from the corruption scandal which is engulfing the NSW Labor party. The Independent Commission Against Corruption has heard that Mr Obeid, a former NSW minister, and his family, made $30 million from an allegedly corrupt government coal licence tender.


Before being elected to the Senate in 2011, Mr Sinodinos was a director of AWH, which ICAC has heard is an Obeid-related company.


In early 2012 the NSW Coalition government awarded AWH a 25-year water infrastructure deal without any tenders. Corporate records show that Mr Sinodinos was a director of AWH from November 2008 until November 2011. On Wednesday, apparently to distance himself from AWH, the senator announced he would forgo his 5 per cent shareholding to which he was entitled following his time as chairman, worth up to $3.75 million.


These shares were held on his behalf in a ''gentleman's agreement'' by AWH boss and major shareholder Nick di Girolamo, who the Herald last year revealed was a close friend of the Obeid family.


Mr Sinodinos, who is the shadow parliamentary secretary to the federal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, denied last night he had at any time asked that the shares ''be held secretly on my behalf''.


He said he was ''shocked and disappointed'' to discover AWH was ''financially linked to the Obeid family''.


He said that he became aware that Mr Obeid's youngest son Eddie jnr was employed by AWH after he himself joined. ''I had no reason to regard his presence in the company as signifying some greater involvement by the Obeid family in AWH.''


AWH made a $30,000 donation to the NSW Liberals while Mr Sinodinos was the state party treasurer but last night he said he did not recollect the donations being discussed at a board level.


with Judith Ireland


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Sinodinos Comes Clean On Directorships - Sydney Morning Herald


Arthur Sinodinos

Oversight … Arthur Sinodinos. Photo: Andrew Meares



Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos, already in strife over his involvement in a company with alleged links to embattled Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid, last night apologised ''unreservedly'' to Federal Parliament for failing to declare interests in several other companies.


Mr Sinodinos blamed an ''innocent oversight'' for failing to declare his directorship of start-up healthcare company Move2Live Pty Ltd, which he said had not traded and from which he had now resigned.


The senator also failed to record his interest in Firestick ICT Pty Ltd, which provided IT services to a non-for-profit company that helps indigenous people finding employment.


A fellow director in Move2Live is Santo Santoro, a minister in the Howard government who resigned in disgrace over his failure to properly declare his shareholdings. Mr Santoro was also a director of Australian Water Holding's Queensland subsidiary. Mr Sinodinos was also a director was a director of AWH.


Mr Sinodinos said that although it was well known he was president of the NSW Liberal Party until December 2012, he should have disclosed his directorship of three entities related to the party.


He said that his amendments to his statement of registrable interest was prompted by an inquiry from a journalist.


''By making a full breast of this,'' he said he hoped it would serve as a warning for other politicians to be more careful and that in the future he would be ''much more punctilious and rigorous''.


In the rest of his statement Mr Sinodinos also tried to distance himself from the corruption scandal which is engulfing the NSW Labor party. The Independent Commission Against Corruption has heard that Mr Obeid, a former NSW minister, and his family, made $30 million from an allegedly corrupt government coal licence tender.


Before being elected to the Senate in 2011, Mr Sinodinos was a director of AWH, which ICAC has heard is an Obeid-related company.


In early 2012 the NSW Coalition government awarded AWH a 25-year water infrastructure deal without any tenders. Corporate records show that Mr Sinodinos was a director of AWH from November 2008 until November 2011. On Wednesday, apparently to distance himself from AWH, the senator announced he would forgo his 5 per cent shareholding to which he was entitled following his time as chairman, worth up to $3.75 million.


These shares were held on his behalf in a ''gentleman's agreement'' by AWH boss and major shareholder Nick di Girolamo, who the Herald last year revealed was a close friend of the Obeid family.


Mr Sinodinos, who is the shadow parliamentary secretary to the federal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, denied last night he had at any time asked that the shares ''be held secretly on my behalf''.


He said he was ''shocked and disappointed'' to discover AWH was ''financially linked to the Obeid family''.


He said that he became aware that Mr Obeid's youngest son Eddie jnr was employed by AWH after he himself joined. ''I had no reason to regard his presence in the company as signifying some greater involvement by the Obeid family in AWH.''


AWH made a $30,000 donation to the NSW Liberals while Mr Sinodinos was the state party treasurer but last night he said he did not recollect the donations being discussed at a board level.


with Judith Ireland


Follow the National Times on Twitter




Rainbow coloured crossing at Taylor Square

New name? NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell has suggested renaming Taylor Square to Kirby Square. Photo: Marco Del Grande



THE Premier, Barry O'Farrell, has suggested switching the name of one Sydney icon with another on the eve of this weekend's gay and lesbian mardi gras.


Taylor Square was named after the former politician and Lord Mayor of Sydney, Sir Allen Taylor*. But now, the Premier wants it renamed in honour of the retired High Court judge Michael Kirby.


As Kirby Square, it would, according to the Premier, provide a more fitting salute to Sydney's gay and lesbian community and the mardi gras, to which it plays host each year, than the City of Sydney's controversial rainbow pedestrian crossing.


Justice Michael Kirby.

Justice Michael Kirby. Photo: Justin McManus



In answer to a question in Parliament from Sydney MP Alex Greenwich about the government's commitment to the gay, lesbian and transgender community, Mr O'Farrell talked about his support for organisations such as ACON in its fight against the spread of HIV.


And after wishing the MPs a ''happy mardi gras'', he addressed the City of Sydney's decision to paint a rainbow pedestrian crossing on Oxford Street, at a reported cost to ratepayers of $110,000.


''Instead perhaps of messing up road safety rules with what is an appropriate acknowledgement of the contribution and frankly the sacrifice and hardship that gay, bisexual, lesbians, transgender and intersex people have gone through,'' he said, ''why not, after all these years rename Taylor Square after a great individual who epitomises just how good that community is - rename it after Michael Kirby''.


Mr Kirby said he would ''bow out'' of the discussion, saying ''these things are for others to decide''. ''It's been known as Taylor Square all my life,'' he said.


The lord mayor, Clover Moore, said Taylor Square was ''an iconic location already''.


''Michael Kirby … has made a significant contribution and I would be very happy to talk with him and the GLBTI community about a way to publicly honour him," she said.


Mr Greenwich said it was important to acknowledge Mr Kirby's continuing contribution to the community.


*Correction: an earlier version of this story said Taylor Square was named after businessman Robert Taylor. Taylor Square was named after Sir Allen Taylor.




Poll: Should Taylor Square be renamed in honour of the retired High Court judge Michael Kirby.




Yes


48%



No


52%




Total votes: 3741.



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You will need Cookies enabled to use our Voting Feature.




Poll closes in 11 hours.



Disclaimer:


These polls are not scientific and reflect the opinion only of visitors who have chosen to participate.




Taylor or Kirby? Premier thinks outside the square - Sydney Morning Herald


Rainbow coloured crossing at Taylor Square

New name? NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell has suggested renaming Taylor Square to Kirby Square. Photo: Marco Del Grande



THE Premier, Barry O'Farrell, has suggested switching the name of one Sydney icon with another on the eve of this weekend's gay and lesbian mardi gras.


Taylor Square was named after the former politician and Lord Mayor of Sydney, Sir Allen Taylor*. But now, the Premier wants it renamed in honour of the retired High Court judge Michael Kirby.


As Kirby Square, it would, according to the Premier, provide a more fitting salute to Sydney's gay and lesbian community and the mardi gras, to which it plays host each year, than the City of Sydney's controversial rainbow pedestrian crossing.


Justice Michael Kirby.

Justice Michael Kirby. Photo: Justin McManus



In answer to a question in Parliament from Sydney MP Alex Greenwich about the government's commitment to the gay, lesbian and transgender community, Mr O'Farrell talked about his support for organisations such as ACON in its fight against the spread of HIV.


And after wishing the MPs a ''happy mardi gras'', he addressed the City of Sydney's decision to paint a rainbow pedestrian crossing on Oxford Street, at a reported cost to ratepayers of $110,000.


''Instead perhaps of messing up road safety rules with what is an appropriate acknowledgement of the contribution and frankly the sacrifice and hardship that gay, bisexual, lesbians, transgender and intersex people have gone through,'' he said, ''why not, after all these years rename Taylor Square after a great individual who epitomises just how good that community is - rename it after Michael Kirby''.


Mr Kirby said he would ''bow out'' of the discussion, saying ''these things are for others to decide''. ''It's been known as Taylor Square all my life,'' he said.


The lord mayor, Clover Moore, said Taylor Square was ''an iconic location already''.


''Michael Kirby … has made a significant contribution and I would be very happy to talk with him and the GLBTI community about a way to publicly honour him," she said.


Mr Greenwich said it was important to acknowledge Mr Kirby's continuing contribution to the community.


*Correction: an earlier version of this story said Taylor Square was named after businessman Robert Taylor. Taylor Square was named after Sir Allen Taylor.




Poll: Should Taylor Square be renamed in honour of the retired High Court judge Michael Kirby.




Yes


48%



No


52%




Total votes: 3741.



Would you like to vote?

You will need Cookies enabled to use our Voting Feature.




Poll closes in 11 hours.



Disclaimer:


These polls are not scientific and reflect the opinion only of visitors who have chosen to participate.





Posted March 01, 2013 12:12:00


Gillard's five-day visit to western Sydney is a fine idea. But when good ideas are poorly executed, the final result can be ugly.


For a couple of years in the 1980s I was a security guard, working for a now defunct Parramatta-based outfit called Westgate.


It was well before there was any proper industry regulation and I was given a licence after attending a two-day course run by a former policeman.


The "training" was supposed to include firearms but we never got round to going to the range.


So, the first time I was assigned to what was designated as a "gun job" I felt compelled to point out that my only weapons experience was firing a single shot from an air-rifle.


The guy behind the counter grunted, took a .38 Smith and Wesson out of the gun safe, and flicked open the cylinder.


"The bullets go in here," he said, handing over six cartridges. "Don't shoot anyone."


So gun in holster, a PR24 baton and a Maglite torch on my belt, I arrived well equipped to protect the late-night shopping crowd at Mt Druitt Market Town (now Westfield).


That job became one of my regular beats. I got to know its ebb and flow and, by trial and error, worked out how to survive. The key was being able to read the crowd, to spot trouble as it was brewing and talk people out of confrontations.


So, months into the job, I was alarmed by a conversation I overheard between two management types.


"Wrestling," the publicity man said.


"Wrestling?" the centre manager repeated, as he weighed the idea.


As I eavesdropped, the publicity guy warmed to his pitch. A ring would be set up in Centre Court to coincide with late-night shopping. An internal and external advertising blitz would draw the punters in droves and there would be a shopping bonanza before and after the bouts.


"I don't think that's a very good idea," I volunteered.


I knew this intervention wouldn't be welcome. People make judgements about you based on your station in life. Wearing a uniform that marked me as an unskilled labourer meant most assumed I was an idiot.


"What would you know about it?" the publicity guy sneered, annoyed that his patter had been interrupted.


I explained that Thursday was payday for most and that meant the pub, let's call it The Bloody Stubby, located about 100 metres from the centre's front door, would be chock full.


I had seen the well-lubricated patrons pour out of its doors to watch spontaneous fights before and the spectators routinely turned into enthusiastic participants. I feared wrestling would draw the pub crowd into the centre and they wouldn't be there for the shopping.


"I don't think we asked for your opinion," the centre manager said as I finished.


The next week the centre was littered with posters advertising a wrestling extravaganza scheduled for the following month. On the Monday before the big night I rang Westgate and asked to change shifts, starting at 9.00pm rather than 5.00pm.


When I arrived that night it was to the sound of cleaners hosing blood out of Centre Court. As I approached the broken chairs and other detritus around the ring I saw a guy dressed in the familiar green uniform of Westgate. His right arm was bandaged from wrist to elbow and he was tightly clutching an envelope in his left hand.


"What happened?" I said.


He turned, his glazed, dilated pupils looking pitifully from a whitened and sweaty face. Slowly, and painfully, he relived the evening.


About 10 minutes before the wrestling was due to start The Bloody Stubby emptied and its patrons flowed like stale beer through the doors of Market Town. The crowd was restless. The show inside the ring began at 7.00pm; the brawl outside it started about 10 minutes later.


Terrified wrestlers fled as several, much more authentic, fights raged. Wisely my replacement decided against intervening in the scuffles between the men but, chivalrously, stepped between two women who had squared off. This was a mistake. One of them sank her teeth into his forearm.


The police arrived, the scene settled and the guard, along with a group of battered combatants, was taken to the nearby Mt Druitt Hospital. His impressive wound required 17 stiches and the envelope in his hand was a referral for an AIDS test.


He finished with a plaintive question.


"Is it always like this here?"





The show inside the ring began at 7.00pm; the brawl outside it started about 10 minutes later... Terrified wrestlers fled as several, much more authentic, fights raged.





Actually, serious trouble was rare. There were routine nuisance-level disturbances but, largely, Mt Druitt's then Sydney-wide reputation as a bad neck of the woods was overblown.


It did have more than its fair share of social problems and less than its fair share of money but it suffered most from bad planning, a lack of services and bad publicity.


And, that night, it suffered from a bad idea dreamed up by a self-basting publicity tool who thought he was a genius.


Memories of eight years living and working in western Sydney came flooding back this week with the announcement that the Prime Minister will spend five days there.


That's a fine idea and not unusual; as the member for Greenway, Michelle Rowland told 7.30, the Prime Minister has been there 17 times since 2010. It is, after all, home to 1 in 11 Australians.


And the daily stresses on the residents of western Sydney are more acute than in other parts of the country.


Demographer Bernard Salt points out that entry-level homes there cost $400,000, so large mortgages are borne by people on average wages. That means few dollars are left for all the other costs of living and even modest price hikes bite. They know they live one crisis away from poverty and worry about their job security and their children's future.


The people of the west have the longest average commuting times in the nation, through badly congested road networks and on crowded trains and buses. They feel the press of people about them because they live in the front line suburbs where most of Australia's large immigration intake actually lands, far from the inner city where the policy makers live and where the worthy shake their heads at the intolerance of the ignorant masses.


On top of all this, state and federal politicians have played on people's sense of grievance for years and heightened expectations about what governments can actually deliver. When life doesn't improve it breeds resentment and fuels the belief that all politicians are liars. And on the nightly news they see former Labor powerbrokers marched in and out of the Independent Commission Against Corruption.


So it shouldn't surprise anyone that an acute sense of resentment and disempowerment has bred among the residents of Sydney's greater west. Their one chance to exercise any power comes with elections and their frustration with Labor was brutally expressed in the 2011 state election and still evident in the 2012 council elections. Federal Labor MPs fear that the community is not done punishing the party and is impatiently awaiting the only poll that counts.


Julia Gillard has little choice but to go west and meet all this head on. There are risks, but Labor isn't in a position to play risk free politics this year. But any promises will have to be more than window dressing or things could go very badly. And while the Prime Minister is there she will have to declare war on her own party and pledge to exorcise it of the corrupt, the hacks, the time-servers and the urgers.





Julia Gillard has little choice but to go west and meet all this head on. There are risks, but Labor isn't in a position to play risk free politics this year.





So there is much to do in the west and spending five days there seems reasonable, given its size and diversity. But there are a couple of things about this trip that jar.


First, it is utterly at odds with a declaration the Prime Minister made in her opening salvo of the year, the Press Club speech where she named the election date as September 14.


"I do not do so to start the nation's longest election campaign," she said.


"Quite the opposite, it should be clear to all which are the days of governing and which are the days of campaigning."


This might seem a small thing but it cuts to the heart of one of this Government's perceived weaknesses: truthfulness. One wonders why a sentence like that was ever included in the speech when it will be tested and ring false time and again between now and August 12, when the formal campaign will begin. And a motif of this Government has been to keep parroting a line way beyond the time when it is apparent to all but the mentally infirm that it is bulldust (budget surplus and mining tax revenue).


The second thing that jars is a prime minister with a Sydney residence booking into a Sydney hotel for a week. That makes this tour very different from the 17 that came before and makes it look like the west is a foreign land. In the words of one seasoned political professional, that makes the whole exercise look like a desperate and tawdry stunt.


So what began as a fine idea is damaged in the execution, something many Labor MPs grimly point out as another hallmark of this Government.


I sometimes wonder what happened to the guy who conceived the wrestling bout in Market Town all those years ago.


Maybe he got a job as a political adviser.


Chris Uhlmann is co-anchor and political editor for 7.30. View his full profile here.


Topics: federal-elections, government-and-politics, federal-government, elections, gillard-julia



Gillard ready to wrestle for western Sydney - ABC Online


Posted March 01, 2013 12:12:00


Gillard's five-day visit to western Sydney is a fine idea. But when good ideas are poorly executed, the final result can be ugly.


For a couple of years in the 1980s I was a security guard, working for a now defunct Parramatta-based outfit called Westgate.


It was well before there was any proper industry regulation and I was given a licence after attending a two-day course run by a former policeman.


The "training" was supposed to include firearms but we never got round to going to the range.


So, the first time I was assigned to what was designated as a "gun job" I felt compelled to point out that my only weapons experience was firing a single shot from an air-rifle.


The guy behind the counter grunted, took a .38 Smith and Wesson out of the gun safe, and flicked open the cylinder.


"The bullets go in here," he said, handing over six cartridges. "Don't shoot anyone."


So gun in holster, a PR24 baton and a Maglite torch on my belt, I arrived well equipped to protect the late-night shopping crowd at Mt Druitt Market Town (now Westfield).


That job became one of my regular beats. I got to know its ebb and flow and, by trial and error, worked out how to survive. The key was being able to read the crowd, to spot trouble as it was brewing and talk people out of confrontations.


So, months into the job, I was alarmed by a conversation I overheard between two management types.


"Wrestling," the publicity man said.


"Wrestling?" the centre manager repeated, as he weighed the idea.


As I eavesdropped, the publicity guy warmed to his pitch. A ring would be set up in Centre Court to coincide with late-night shopping. An internal and external advertising blitz would draw the punters in droves and there would be a shopping bonanza before and after the bouts.


"I don't think that's a very good idea," I volunteered.


I knew this intervention wouldn't be welcome. People make judgements about you based on your station in life. Wearing a uniform that marked me as an unskilled labourer meant most assumed I was an idiot.


"What would you know about it?" the publicity guy sneered, annoyed that his patter had been interrupted.


I explained that Thursday was payday for most and that meant the pub, let's call it The Bloody Stubby, located about 100 metres from the centre's front door, would be chock full.


I had seen the well-lubricated patrons pour out of its doors to watch spontaneous fights before and the spectators routinely turned into enthusiastic participants. I feared wrestling would draw the pub crowd into the centre and they wouldn't be there for the shopping.


"I don't think we asked for your opinion," the centre manager said as I finished.


The next week the centre was littered with posters advertising a wrestling extravaganza scheduled for the following month. On the Monday before the big night I rang Westgate and asked to change shifts, starting at 9.00pm rather than 5.00pm.


When I arrived that night it was to the sound of cleaners hosing blood out of Centre Court. As I approached the broken chairs and other detritus around the ring I saw a guy dressed in the familiar green uniform of Westgate. His right arm was bandaged from wrist to elbow and he was tightly clutching an envelope in his left hand.


"What happened?" I said.


He turned, his glazed, dilated pupils looking pitifully from a whitened and sweaty face. Slowly, and painfully, he relived the evening.


About 10 minutes before the wrestling was due to start The Bloody Stubby emptied and its patrons flowed like stale beer through the doors of Market Town. The crowd was restless. The show inside the ring began at 7.00pm; the brawl outside it started about 10 minutes later.


Terrified wrestlers fled as several, much more authentic, fights raged. Wisely my replacement decided against intervening in the scuffles between the men but, chivalrously, stepped between two women who had squared off. This was a mistake. One of them sank her teeth into his forearm.


The police arrived, the scene settled and the guard, along with a group of battered combatants, was taken to the nearby Mt Druitt Hospital. His impressive wound required 17 stiches and the envelope in his hand was a referral for an AIDS test.


He finished with a plaintive question.


"Is it always like this here?"





The show inside the ring began at 7.00pm; the brawl outside it started about 10 minutes later... Terrified wrestlers fled as several, much more authentic, fights raged.





Actually, serious trouble was rare. There were routine nuisance-level disturbances but, largely, Mt Druitt's then Sydney-wide reputation as a bad neck of the woods was overblown.


It did have more than its fair share of social problems and less than its fair share of money but it suffered most from bad planning, a lack of services and bad publicity.


And, that night, it suffered from a bad idea dreamed up by a self-basting publicity tool who thought he was a genius.


Memories of eight years living and working in western Sydney came flooding back this week with the announcement that the Prime Minister will spend five days there.


That's a fine idea and not unusual; as the member for Greenway, Michelle Rowland told 7.30, the Prime Minister has been there 17 times since 2010. It is, after all, home to 1 in 11 Australians.


And the daily stresses on the residents of western Sydney are more acute than in other parts of the country.


Demographer Bernard Salt points out that entry-level homes there cost $400,000, so large mortgages are borne by people on average wages. That means few dollars are left for all the other costs of living and even modest price hikes bite. They know they live one crisis away from poverty and worry about their job security and their children's future.


The people of the west have the longest average commuting times in the nation, through badly congested road networks and on crowded trains and buses. They feel the press of people about them because they live in the front line suburbs where most of Australia's large immigration intake actually lands, far from the inner city where the policy makers live and where the worthy shake their heads at the intolerance of the ignorant masses.


On top of all this, state and federal politicians have played on people's sense of grievance for years and heightened expectations about what governments can actually deliver. When life doesn't improve it breeds resentment and fuels the belief that all politicians are liars. And on the nightly news they see former Labor powerbrokers marched in and out of the Independent Commission Against Corruption.


So it shouldn't surprise anyone that an acute sense of resentment and disempowerment has bred among the residents of Sydney's greater west. Their one chance to exercise any power comes with elections and their frustration with Labor was brutally expressed in the 2011 state election and still evident in the 2012 council elections. Federal Labor MPs fear that the community is not done punishing the party and is impatiently awaiting the only poll that counts.


Julia Gillard has little choice but to go west and meet all this head on. There are risks, but Labor isn't in a position to play risk free politics this year. But any promises will have to be more than window dressing or things could go very badly. And while the Prime Minister is there she will have to declare war on her own party and pledge to exorcise it of the corrupt, the hacks, the time-servers and the urgers.





Julia Gillard has little choice but to go west and meet all this head on. There are risks, but Labor isn't in a position to play risk free politics this year.





So there is much to do in the west and spending five days there seems reasonable, given its size and diversity. But there are a couple of things about this trip that jar.


First, it is utterly at odds with a declaration the Prime Minister made in her opening salvo of the year, the Press Club speech where she named the election date as September 14.


"I do not do so to start the nation's longest election campaign," she said.


"Quite the opposite, it should be clear to all which are the days of governing and which are the days of campaigning."


This might seem a small thing but it cuts to the heart of one of this Government's perceived weaknesses: truthfulness. One wonders why a sentence like that was ever included in the speech when it will be tested and ring false time and again between now and August 12, when the formal campaign will begin. And a motif of this Government has been to keep parroting a line way beyond the time when it is apparent to all but the mentally infirm that it is bulldust (budget surplus and mining tax revenue).


The second thing that jars is a prime minister with a Sydney residence booking into a Sydney hotel for a week. That makes this tour very different from the 17 that came before and makes it look like the west is a foreign land. In the words of one seasoned political professional, that makes the whole exercise look like a desperate and tawdry stunt.


So what began as a fine idea is damaged in the execution, something many Labor MPs grimly point out as another hallmark of this Government.


I sometimes wonder what happened to the guy who conceived the wrestling bout in Market Town all those years ago.


Maybe he got a job as a political adviser.


Chris Uhlmann is co-anchor and political editor for 7.30. View his full profile here.


Topics: federal-elections, government-and-politics, federal-government, elections, gillard-julia




Heat

Heat was on. Summer of 2012/13 goes down in the record books as the hottest ever. Photo: Glenn Campbell



Australia's summer of extreme weather has claimed another record with the country posting its hottest December-February period ever.



The Bureau of Meteorology said the average temperature across the nation was 28.6 degrees, 1.1 degrees above normal, shading the previous summer record of 1997-98 by 0.1 degrees.


A slew of other summer records also fell, with a new daytime average maximum of 35.7 degrees, 1.4 degrees above normal and 0.2 degrees above the previous high set in 1982/83, the bureau said.


The intense heat across much of the nation in January - the hottest month on record - helped set the season up for the record burst. The September-February period is also the hottest since records began.


Perhaps most remarkably, though, the records fell even though the dominant El Nino-Southern Oscillation weather pattern over the Pacific remained in a neutral phase. The two previous record summers were both El Nino years, as were six of the hottest nine.


“On average over Australia, El Nino years tend to come out with a warmer summer,” Andrew Watkins, manager of climate prediction services at the bureau, said. “The January heatwave was off the scale when you look at the successive days of high temperatures.”


Fourteen of the 112 locations deployed by the weather bureau to monitor the long-term climate broke records for the hottest day, the most in any summer. Sydney with its 45.8 degrees and Hobart at 41.8 degrees registered their hottest days.


More soon



Summer records fall after long heatwave - Sydney Morning Herald


Heat

Heat was on. Summer of 2012/13 goes down in the record books as the hottest ever. Photo: Glenn Campbell



Australia's summer of extreme weather has claimed another record with the country posting its hottest December-February period ever.



The Bureau of Meteorology said the average temperature across the nation was 28.6 degrees, 1.1 degrees above normal, shading the previous summer record of 1997-98 by 0.1 degrees.


A slew of other summer records also fell, with a new daytime average maximum of 35.7 degrees, 1.4 degrees above normal and 0.2 degrees above the previous high set in 1982/83, the bureau said.


The intense heat across much of the nation in January - the hottest month on record - helped set the season up for the record burst. The September-February period is also the hottest since records began.


Perhaps most remarkably, though, the records fell even though the dominant El Nino-Southern Oscillation weather pattern over the Pacific remained in a neutral phase. The two previous record summers were both El Nino years, as were six of the hottest nine.


“On average over Australia, El Nino years tend to come out with a warmer summer,” Andrew Watkins, manager of climate prediction services at the bureau, said. “The January heatwave was off the scale when you look at the successive days of high temperatures.”


Fourteen of the 112 locations deployed by the weather bureau to monitor the long-term climate broke records for the hottest day, the most in any summer. Sydney with its 45.8 degrees and Hobart at 41.8 degrees registered their hottest days.


More soon




Sydney is experiencing a sodden start to autumn, following the wettest summer in the city in five years.


Parts of Sydney were drenched in nearly 50 millimetres of rain overnight, with the downpour expected to continue into the early afternoon.


Other parts of the state have been hit with more significant rainfall totals.


Orange Airport recorded 105 millimetres of rain overnight, almost as much as the area received throughout the entire summer, while Newcastle has been drenched in widespread rainfall totals of 60 millimetres.


Some domestic flights were delayed at Sydney Airport on Friday morning, while a section of Old South Head Road at Vaucluse collapsed, closing out-bound lanes to traffic.


But Weatherzone meteorologist Rob Sharpe said conditions were forecast to improve in Sydney on Saturday, when thousands of revellers will head into the city for the gay and lesbian mardi gras.


"It's looking like it's going to be a fairly cloudy day, and there's going to be a few showers coming through [on Saturday]," Mr Sharpe said.


"At the moment the rain is going to be off rather than on. Most of the day will be dry but there are going to be a few showers coming through."


Mr Sharpe said this summer was the wettest in five years, with 348.8 millimetres of rain falling - more than 50 millimetres above the summer average. Most of that rain fell in the last 33 days of summer.


But this summer was also notable in that Sydney experienced its hottest ever day on January 18, when the mercury topped 45.8 at Sydney's Observatory Hill. That broke the previous record set in 1939 by half a degree.


Sydney also recorded its driest December in eight years.


Mr Sharpe said a low-pressure trough was moving through NSW on Friday morning.


A high pressure system was also centred to the west of Tasmania, extending a ridge along the southern coast of New South Wales.


In Sydney on Friday, the rain is expected to ease in the early afternoon, however winds are expected to average 30-50km/h, with gusts of up to 70km/h.


A maximum of 21 degrees was forecast in the city on Friday, with a top of 23 degrees on Saturday and 25 on Sunday.


A Transport Management Centre spokesman said part of Old South Head Road collapsed at Vaucluse, near the intersection with Belah Avenue, early on Friday morning.


He said lanes heading away from the city were closed while emergency services and the council examined the site. Traffic is being diverted via Cambridge Avenue and Derby Street.


About 9000 households around Doonside were blacked out when a cable failed at the Doonside substation about 4.20am.


Residents in the area reported hearing a loud boom at the time. Endeavour Energy said most households were back online about 6.50am, with about 100 homes still affected.


Weatherzone.com.au is owned by Fairfax Media, publisher of this website.



Wet start to autumn as road collapses in Vaucluse - Sydney Morning Herald


Sydney is experiencing a sodden start to autumn, following the wettest summer in the city in five years.


Parts of Sydney were drenched in nearly 50 millimetres of rain overnight, with the downpour expected to continue into the early afternoon.


Other parts of the state have been hit with more significant rainfall totals.


Orange Airport recorded 105 millimetres of rain overnight, almost as much as the area received throughout the entire summer, while Newcastle has been drenched in widespread rainfall totals of 60 millimetres.


Some domestic flights were delayed at Sydney Airport on Friday morning, while a section of Old South Head Road at Vaucluse collapsed, closing out-bound lanes to traffic.


But Weatherzone meteorologist Rob Sharpe said conditions were forecast to improve in Sydney on Saturday, when thousands of revellers will head into the city for the gay and lesbian mardi gras.


"It's looking like it's going to be a fairly cloudy day, and there's going to be a few showers coming through [on Saturday]," Mr Sharpe said.


"At the moment the rain is going to be off rather than on. Most of the day will be dry but there are going to be a few showers coming through."


Mr Sharpe said this summer was the wettest in five years, with 348.8 millimetres of rain falling - more than 50 millimetres above the summer average. Most of that rain fell in the last 33 days of summer.


But this summer was also notable in that Sydney experienced its hottest ever day on January 18, when the mercury topped 45.8 at Sydney's Observatory Hill. That broke the previous record set in 1939 by half a degree.


Sydney also recorded its driest December in eight years.


Mr Sharpe said a low-pressure trough was moving through NSW on Friday morning.


A high pressure system was also centred to the west of Tasmania, extending a ridge along the southern coast of New South Wales.


In Sydney on Friday, the rain is expected to ease in the early afternoon, however winds are expected to average 30-50km/h, with gusts of up to 70km/h.


A maximum of 21 degrees was forecast in the city on Friday, with a top of 23 degrees on Saturday and 25 on Sunday.


A Transport Management Centre spokesman said part of Old South Head Road collapsed at Vaucluse, near the intersection with Belah Avenue, early on Friday morning.


He said lanes heading away from the city were closed while emergency services and the council examined the site. Traffic is being diverted via Cambridge Avenue and Derby Street.


About 9000 households around Doonside were blacked out when a cable failed at the Doonside substation about 4.20am.


Residents in the area reported hearing a loud boom at the time. Endeavour Energy said most households were back online about 6.50am, with about 100 homes still affected.


Weatherzone.com.au is owned by Fairfax Media, publisher of this website.






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Warragamba plan commendable


The government's proposal to raise Sydney's Warragamba dam has been welcomed by the Insurance Council of Australia says spokesperson Campbell Fuller.





Raising the Warragamba Dam wall by 23 metres will cost up to $800 million, it has been claimed, with experts divided over its value for reducing flooding.


The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, reignited debate by pledging $50 million to building up the dam wall by 23 metres.


Steve Knight, the executive engineer of the state government's dams safety committee, said without a higher dam wall, there was little scope for Warragamba to reduce downstream flooding in a big event.


<b></b>

Raising the dam wall ... if the Warragamba is raised 23m, 3715 more houses will be saved from flooding in a one in 100-year flood.



''The full supply water level of the dam is very close to the top of the gates, compared with several metres lower at Wivenhoe Dam that provides flood mitigation space for Brisbane,'' he said.


However, Stuart Khan, a senior lecturer at the water research centre at the University of NSW, said while the risk was ''very real'' that the Hawkesbury Nepean Valley would flood, raising the height of Warragamba was the wrong way to deal with the issues.''It doesn't matter how big that dam is. It's not that it's not big enough; it's just that the management needs to change,'' he said. ''We need to reserve some storage capacity in the reservoir for when those big inflows come along.''


The Premier, Barry O'Farrell, was non-committal about the Prime Minister's suggestion for raising the wall of the dam because it was not backed with a sufficient financial commitment.


Warragamba Dam has opened the gates of the spillway as it overflows into the Nepean River.

Warragamba Dam has opened the gates of the spillway as it overflows into the Nepean River. Photo: Carlos Furtado



He declined to support the idea and would only say that the NSW government announced in December that it would review the major flood mitigation options in the Hawkesbury Nepean Valley.


He said it would look at ''minimising the potential economic and social impact of flooding within the catchment''.


The NSW Greens said the proposal was ''an expensive and ill-thought policy that fails to consider the cheaper, low-impact options''. The Greens MP John Kaye said ''at best it will be an expensive Band-Aid solution that will fail to effectively eliminate flood risk''.


Construction of Warragamba Dam in 1957.

Construction of Warragamba Dam in April 1957. Photo: RL Stewart



While the region has not had a major flood since 1991, it remains a focus of insurers and emergency service planners alike. The area has recorded 120 floods in the past two centuries but the influx of many more residents from Sydney's sprawl has raised the economic and human risks of future floods. The damage bill from a major flood is estimated to reach as high as $8 billion.


The biggest flood recorded in the river's history took place in 1867, when water levels at Windsor peaked at 19.3 metres. However, raising the dam wall by 23 metres would only have reduced the impact of a flood on that scale by four to five metres, a report commissioned by the state government last year found.


The cost of raising the wall, put at $411 million last year, is likely to be much higher when construction is complete.


''It would be $700 million to $800 million,'' said Amir Deen, a water consultant and former senior hydrologist with Sydney Catchment Authority.


''There would be water quality issues for Sydney'' during construction, he said.


Apart from the direct financial cost, building up the wall would massively expand Lake Burragorang, which would back up along about 118 kilometres of remote rivers behind the dam.


It would inundate about 7500 hectares of protected bushland and spill into three adjoining national parks.


''It's a wild, wild area that's beautifully rugged, with deep ravines, some sweeping bends with rock pebbles and glassy water,'' said Keith Muir, of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.


But, with the current dam, there remains a bigger danger of massive floods hitting thousands of homes downstream, said a former senior engineer at the dam, who declined to be named.


''It's got the potential for vast inflows,'' the engineer said. ''Keeping the dam partially lower would have a marginal effect on flooding. Those people sitting there are in danger as we speak,'' he said, noting the dam was full and more rain was on the way.


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Experts split over value of raising dam wall - Sydney Morning Herald




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Warragamba plan commendable


The government's proposal to raise Sydney's Warragamba dam has been welcomed by the Insurance Council of Australia says spokesperson Campbell Fuller.





Raising the Warragamba Dam wall by 23 metres will cost up to $800 million, it has been claimed, with experts divided over its value for reducing flooding.


The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, reignited debate by pledging $50 million to building up the dam wall by 23 metres.


Steve Knight, the executive engineer of the state government's dams safety committee, said without a higher dam wall, there was little scope for Warragamba to reduce downstream flooding in a big event.


<b></b>

Raising the dam wall ... if the Warragamba is raised 23m, 3715 more houses will be saved from flooding in a one in 100-year flood.



''The full supply water level of the dam is very close to the top of the gates, compared with several metres lower at Wivenhoe Dam that provides flood mitigation space for Brisbane,'' he said.


However, Stuart Khan, a senior lecturer at the water research centre at the University of NSW, said while the risk was ''very real'' that the Hawkesbury Nepean Valley would flood, raising the height of Warragamba was the wrong way to deal with the issues.''It doesn't matter how big that dam is. It's not that it's not big enough; it's just that the management needs to change,'' he said. ''We need to reserve some storage capacity in the reservoir for when those big inflows come along.''


The Premier, Barry O'Farrell, was non-committal about the Prime Minister's suggestion for raising the wall of the dam because it was not backed with a sufficient financial commitment.


Warragamba Dam has opened the gates of the spillway as it overflows into the Nepean River.

Warragamba Dam has opened the gates of the spillway as it overflows into the Nepean River. Photo: Carlos Furtado



He declined to support the idea and would only say that the NSW government announced in December that it would review the major flood mitigation options in the Hawkesbury Nepean Valley.


He said it would look at ''minimising the potential economic and social impact of flooding within the catchment''.


The NSW Greens said the proposal was ''an expensive and ill-thought policy that fails to consider the cheaper, low-impact options''. The Greens MP John Kaye said ''at best it will be an expensive Band-Aid solution that will fail to effectively eliminate flood risk''.


Construction of Warragamba Dam in 1957.

Construction of Warragamba Dam in April 1957. Photo: RL Stewart



While the region has not had a major flood since 1991, it remains a focus of insurers and emergency service planners alike. The area has recorded 120 floods in the past two centuries but the influx of many more residents from Sydney's sprawl has raised the economic and human risks of future floods. The damage bill from a major flood is estimated to reach as high as $8 billion.


The biggest flood recorded in the river's history took place in 1867, when water levels at Windsor peaked at 19.3 metres. However, raising the dam wall by 23 metres would only have reduced the impact of a flood on that scale by four to five metres, a report commissioned by the state government last year found.


The cost of raising the wall, put at $411 million last year, is likely to be much higher when construction is complete.


''It would be $700 million to $800 million,'' said Amir Deen, a water consultant and former senior hydrologist with Sydney Catchment Authority.


''There would be water quality issues for Sydney'' during construction, he said.


Apart from the direct financial cost, building up the wall would massively expand Lake Burragorang, which would back up along about 118 kilometres of remote rivers behind the dam.


It would inundate about 7500 hectares of protected bushland and spill into three adjoining national parks.


''It's a wild, wild area that's beautifully rugged, with deep ravines, some sweeping bends with rock pebbles and glassy water,'' said Keith Muir, of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.


But, with the current dam, there remains a bigger danger of massive floods hitting thousands of homes downstream, said a former senior engineer at the dam, who declined to be named.


''It's got the potential for vast inflows,'' the engineer said. ''Keeping the dam partially lower would have a marginal effect on flooding. Those people sitting there are in danger as we speak,'' he said, noting the dam was full and more rain was on the way.


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LETTERS


I am sure Cardinal Pell is a very nice chap, but reading his comments on the Pope's resignation I wondered if he may be feeling some cold winds on his own neck (''Pell critical of Pope as he bids farewell'', February 28).


Indeed, people who disagree with a contentious cardinal may mount a campaign to get him to resign. He's got to know his theology, but maybe Catholics would prefer a cardinal who can lead the church and pull it together a bit. Having observed Cardinal Pell's cringe-making efforts on the question of child abuse, I can only agree.


Lynne Poleson Kingsford


Cardinal Pell's call for a Pope with a gift for leadership is more convincing than many other comments I have read.


George Pell is alleged to have played an important role gathering support for Benedict's election but first-hand accounts of the process are always lacking. In fact, many of the comments on the Vatican and the Papal election remind me of the self-styled royal watchers who speak as if they have a hot line to the queen but sound as convincing as gossip columnists.


Pell's preference for a Pope ''who can lead the Church and pull it together a bit'' recognises the Pope has to be a manager as well as a theologian and echoes the CEO duty statements of many international organisations.


There is some truth in the quip that when the Catholic Church sneezes, the Anglican Church catches the flu, and as an Anglican I wish the conclave every success in electing a candidate who can lead the church out of the current scandals.


James Moore Kingsgrove


Once again, Cardinal Pell puts his foot in his mouth - the sheer irony of the recently announced royal commission into the sexual abuse of children completely washes over him as he chooses to berate Pope Benedict for lack of church leadership and his decision to resign.


Truth be said, millions of global Catholics would have yearned for some real church governance, collective leadership on the part of the ''princes'' of the church. To have persuaded the late Pope John Paul II that he had no need to literally die in office and in such humiliating circumstances - where was the basic charity in that neglect?


As for Cardinal Pell's remark that the Pope ''got to know his theology'', that's absolute arrogance, not that humility has been a readily embraced attribute among many of the bishops and cardinals of the church.


As to the need to choose as Pope someone capable of ''pulling the church together a bit'', Cardinal Pell would do well to reflect on why Australian Catholics have abandoned church weddings in their droves and why bulging Catholic schools aren't translating into young bums on church seats?


But that would mean the unthinkable: consultation with what's left of the laity. Otherwise, the risk is that what's left won't be pulled together a bit but, rather, be pulled apart altogether.


And still on ''governance", how can the Vatican simply stand by and deny Britain a voice in the selection of a Pope because its most senior church leader has quit his post? Leadership indeed!


Brian Haill Frankston (Vic)


Morrison's pitiless call shows how Abbott cabinet will look


Scott Morrison's latest atrocious initiative, a call for categorising all asylum seekers as criminals, throws a bright light on what an Abbott cabinet might look like ('''Behaviour' rules vilify asylum seekers - Lib'', February 28).


Senior national decision-making positions will be occupied by hard-eyed, cold-hearted people such as Morrison, Eric Abetz, Cory Bernardi and Sophie Mirabella. Throw in the Bishop girls and Abbott himself, and we are confronted with a very unappealing picture.


People looking to Malcolm Turnbull to have the guts to soften the policies of this militantly hard-faced crew are likely to be disappointed. It was not Turnbull but another MP, Russell Broadbent, who stood up for decency from within the Coalition, by raising a lone objection to Morrison's obnoxious line.


John Bowan Gladesville


Scott Morrison has effectively equated the danger of asylum seekers with paedophiles. Perhaps next he could propose having them wear patches on their shirts for easy identification.


Justin Whelan Earlwood


Scott Morrison would like "residents and police" to be advised when an asylum seeker is in their midst, and suggests there should be "behaviour protocols" prescribed for them.


Liberal Party politicians who have never understood that asylum seekers are not criminals suggest that all should be treated worse than criminals as the result of a single sad instance of a charge that has not yet been brought to trial.


As for "behaviour protocols", we have two asylum seekers living in our home, one for the past six months. If there were a need to describe courteous, responsible behaviour they should be drafting the protocols, not receiving them.


Barry Riley Umina Beach


A HECS on them - be a good sport and pay dues


Ben Quilty makes a revealing argument about the inequality shown to lots of professions, and not just those in the creative industries, when he compared the free training, education and travel afforded our sporting elites (''Free ride for sports just not equitable'', February 28).


Surely by now Australians are equally proud and appreciative of their artists as well as their sports people and it's hard not to disagree with the logic of a HECS-type funding arrangement for those in the sporting industry. It doesn't seem very fair at all.


Peter Neufeld Mosman


Sport is not yet religion (albeit close), and reaching for gold in either should not be exempt from either HECS or tax. Thanks, Ben Quilty, for leading the charge.


Simon Hutt Bathurst


Ben Quilty is right. Our sporting ''heroes'' have had it too easy for too long. They consume a huge part of our tax dollars, before consuming a huge amount of drugs and making nuisances of themselves while underperforming in their chosen sport. At least when artists take drugs they can do some interesting work and not keep their colleagues up all night.


John Byrne Randwick


Just do the sums


Your editorial leads off on Thursday with the heading ''Cool or not, maths teaching is vital to the national interest'' (February 28). Absolutely true.


As an ex-teacher of maths I have long despaired of the attitude to maths among our home-grown students. There has been a decline in the number of both boys and girls studying this subject for the HSC. And our figures are slightly skewed to the upside when you consider the number of Asian students presenting in maths.


Our home-grown students see maths as too difficult, not sexy, and basically uncool. This story is repeated in the Anglo world.


The numbers doing maths in Asia are on the rise and that from an already high base. It is often remarked that this and future centuries will witness the transfer of economic power from west to east. And a good knowledge of maths will underpin this transfer.


Our western society is too prone to the gimmicky and sexy. Unless we wake up and embrace the discipline of maths, our future will be as users of technology rather than creators.


Michael Kennedy West Pymble


Water bills online


Andree Taylor (Letters, February 23) was on the money observing the digital age not only allows customers to receive and pay their bills online but can help protect the environment as well. However, it is incorrect to say Sydney Water hasn't provided this service to its customers. It was one of the first Australian businesses to offer online billing through the BPAY View service. In the past year, Sydney Water has delivered more than 100,000 online bills to its customers.


Andrew Arnott


Chief Executive Officer, BPAY


Titanic gesture to China


Clive Palmer has declared the cost of the new Titanic is not really a problem (''Professor Palmer's ship comes in'', February 28). Why then give it to China? It is a great pity then that none of the benefits will flow to Australia where he literally made his pile. No raw materials and no employment here. Nothing for us to shout about for this Liberal Party supporter and true blue Aussie.


Ian Kerr Galston


There are children in their thousands dying of malnutrition. There are children in their thousands dying of preventable disease. There are children in their thousands denied an education. There are children in their thousands living in institutions because their parents have given them up, unwilling or unable to care for them. And a disgustingly rich man Clive Palmer would prefer to make his name and gain himself publicity by refloating an unsinkable ship.


When Jesus said it was easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle than to enter the gates of heaven, I have a feeling he was speaking of the priorities of the rich.


Genevieve Milton Newtown


Teach Pyne a lesson


Just like the indecent invocation of the ''boat people threat'' as a distracting scare tactic to divert people's attention away from punishing the Howard government over the abysmal implementation of the GST, Christopher Pyne invokes ''didactic teaching methods'' and teacher standards as a solution to education issues (''Old school is way to go, says Pyne'', February 28). Instead, he should just do the decent thing and support the Gonski reforms.


Brenton White Mosman


No surprise PM goes west again


Why are people so cynical about Julia Gillard's visit to western Sydney? As a resident of western Sydney I have seen her come here ''every year'' to explain what her government is about.


The only reason people have not noticed this is because everyone in Australia, bar the ALP caucus, came down in the last shower.


Sunil Chandra Seven Hills


The battle for Rooty Hill will be a shocking defeat without Kevin the Lionheart: Australians want the rightful king restored to the throne, even if they don't choose him again at the next election.


John Dobinson


North Balwyn (Vic)


Not a pretty sight


Jon Stirzaker (Letters, February 28) goes straight to the inherent hypocrisy of the breast-feeding incident. Granted, it will always be hard to find public consensus on the level of body exposure deemed acceptable in public spaces. The Satellite cafe event is merely a rather shrill manifestation of that.


Personally, I find the sight of men (usually of a certain age, i.e. should know better) who expose their not-so-manly torsos in public a problem. Keep it strictly for the beach, fellas, or for mowing the lawn on the weekend. It is not a good look in your local shopping mall.


Anthea Doe Russell Lea


Senior executive service the issue


Premier Barry O'Farrell wants an innovative, professional and accountable public service that encourages and rewards performance and delivers the best possible frontline services for local communities (''O'Farrell to end managers' five-year contracts'', February 28). He thinks the five-year contracts of senior managers are the problem and proposes offering them ongoing contracts conditional on meeting performance benchmarks.


Surely that is moving from the sublime to the ridiculous. Any state public servant will tell you how difficult it is to monitor performance where multiple levels of management and little productivity exist. The bloated senior executive service, up from 280 to 1600, now even includes managers who do not manage people.


The real rotten apple in the system is that the bloating of the NSW senior executive service has come about through rewarding of sycophants and political lackeys with fancy-titled positions. They are well paid, strut the stage feeling important, but do little that is productive, leaving the bulk of work to their lesser-paid minions. If they are found to be grossly inefficient in managing people, then they are simply (for example) moved onwards and often upwards to managing buildings or finance where they will wreak less havoc.


When Nick Greiner introduced the senior executive service, it was to attract the top echelon of industry into the state public service. Instead, it has become a trough of convenience that can no longer cope with the number of snouts in it.


Jim Gentles Coogee


Think laterally and go deeper


I feel that the howls of ridicule aimed at the PM's exciting idea are unfair (''Dam project just the start in wooing of western Sydney,'' smh.com.au, February 28). Perhaps it simply needs some lateral thought. Rather than raising the sides of Warragamba Dam, might it not be more practical simply to lower the bottom?


Tim Parker Balmain


The good seed


If Barry O'Farrell spied our eight-year-old daughter at Nick Cave's Tuesday night performance, neither he, nor anyone else, was moved to call in the child protectors (''New album enchants but intensity, flow lacking'', February 28).


Yes, it was a school night and the language was raw and coarse, but most of that swept over her head and she was instead focused on the music and the performers. Far from traumatising this aspiring musician, they inspired her. I suspect she may also now have less tolerance for the lip-synching, computer-generated music often favoured by her peers.


Had DOCS attempted to ''rescue'' our daughter, we would have suggested their time be better spent knocking at the homes of eight-year-olds who spend hours engaged in sexually explicit and violent video games.


Rachel Ferguson Mosman


It's what they do


Jonathan McIlroy (Letters, February 28) asks ''Will we ever be able to believe a word that comes out of this Prime Minister's mouth?'' Why limit incredulity to a single member of Parliament? Surely the old aphorism applies pretty well across the major parties: ''You can tell when politicians are lying - because their lips are moving.''


Ashley Collard Fairlight


Going begging


Labor's public relations are appalling. The Gillard government has a huge range of accomplishments it should be telling the electorate about, but instead it has allowed itself to be distracted, long-term, by the antics of a negative and policy-deprived opposition. Gillard needs a Minister for Show and Tell.


Barrie Smillie Duffy (ACT)


Awe of physics


As someone who failed physics in the Leaving Certificate I can only marvel at the ingenuity of Brendan McMonigal proposing to his partner, Christie Nelan, via a physics graph (''With this physics paper I thee … graph of true love turns into proposal'', February 28).


I wish them both a lifetime of health and happiness among the stars, reaching heights the rest of us can only dream about - and even the oldies, such as Newton and Einstein, are blown away into a different dimension with admiration.


Peter Skrzynecki Eastwood


Granting wishes


The new Herald may be compact, but the letters page will still be a broad church.


John Christie Oatley


Oh to be the final letter at the bottom of the eighth column on the last broadsheet letters page!


Allan Gibson Cherrybrook



Pell's criticism of church leadership reeks of hypocrisy - Sydney Morning Herald


LETTERS


I am sure Cardinal Pell is a very nice chap, but reading his comments on the Pope's resignation I wondered if he may be feeling some cold winds on his own neck (''Pell critical of Pope as he bids farewell'', February 28).


Indeed, people who disagree with a contentious cardinal may mount a campaign to get him to resign. He's got to know his theology, but maybe Catholics would prefer a cardinal who can lead the church and pull it together a bit. Having observed Cardinal Pell's cringe-making efforts on the question of child abuse, I can only agree.


Lynne Poleson Kingsford


Cardinal Pell's call for a Pope with a gift for leadership is more convincing than many other comments I have read.


George Pell is alleged to have played an important role gathering support for Benedict's election but first-hand accounts of the process are always lacking. In fact, many of the comments on the Vatican and the Papal election remind me of the self-styled royal watchers who speak as if they have a hot line to the queen but sound as convincing as gossip columnists.


Pell's preference for a Pope ''who can lead the Church and pull it together a bit'' recognises the Pope has to be a manager as well as a theologian and echoes the CEO duty statements of many international organisations.


There is some truth in the quip that when the Catholic Church sneezes, the Anglican Church catches the flu, and as an Anglican I wish the conclave every success in electing a candidate who can lead the church out of the current scandals.


James Moore Kingsgrove


Once again, Cardinal Pell puts his foot in his mouth - the sheer irony of the recently announced royal commission into the sexual abuse of children completely washes over him as he chooses to berate Pope Benedict for lack of church leadership and his decision to resign.


Truth be said, millions of global Catholics would have yearned for some real church governance, collective leadership on the part of the ''princes'' of the church. To have persuaded the late Pope John Paul II that he had no need to literally die in office and in such humiliating circumstances - where was the basic charity in that neglect?


As for Cardinal Pell's remark that the Pope ''got to know his theology'', that's absolute arrogance, not that humility has been a readily embraced attribute among many of the bishops and cardinals of the church.


As to the need to choose as Pope someone capable of ''pulling the church together a bit'', Cardinal Pell would do well to reflect on why Australian Catholics have abandoned church weddings in their droves and why bulging Catholic schools aren't translating into young bums on church seats?


But that would mean the unthinkable: consultation with what's left of the laity. Otherwise, the risk is that what's left won't be pulled together a bit but, rather, be pulled apart altogether.


And still on ''governance", how can the Vatican simply stand by and deny Britain a voice in the selection of a Pope because its most senior church leader has quit his post? Leadership indeed!


Brian Haill Frankston (Vic)


Morrison's pitiless call shows how Abbott cabinet will look


Scott Morrison's latest atrocious initiative, a call for categorising all asylum seekers as criminals, throws a bright light on what an Abbott cabinet might look like ('''Behaviour' rules vilify asylum seekers - Lib'', February 28).


Senior national decision-making positions will be occupied by hard-eyed, cold-hearted people such as Morrison, Eric Abetz, Cory Bernardi and Sophie Mirabella. Throw in the Bishop girls and Abbott himself, and we are confronted with a very unappealing picture.


People looking to Malcolm Turnbull to have the guts to soften the policies of this militantly hard-faced crew are likely to be disappointed. It was not Turnbull but another MP, Russell Broadbent, who stood up for decency from within the Coalition, by raising a lone objection to Morrison's obnoxious line.


John Bowan Gladesville


Scott Morrison has effectively equated the danger of asylum seekers with paedophiles. Perhaps next he could propose having them wear patches on their shirts for easy identification.


Justin Whelan Earlwood


Scott Morrison would like "residents and police" to be advised when an asylum seeker is in their midst, and suggests there should be "behaviour protocols" prescribed for them.


Liberal Party politicians who have never understood that asylum seekers are not criminals suggest that all should be treated worse than criminals as the result of a single sad instance of a charge that has not yet been brought to trial.


As for "behaviour protocols", we have two asylum seekers living in our home, one for the past six months. If there were a need to describe courteous, responsible behaviour they should be drafting the protocols, not receiving them.


Barry Riley Umina Beach


A HECS on them - be a good sport and pay dues


Ben Quilty makes a revealing argument about the inequality shown to lots of professions, and not just those in the creative industries, when he compared the free training, education and travel afforded our sporting elites (''Free ride for sports just not equitable'', February 28).


Surely by now Australians are equally proud and appreciative of their artists as well as their sports people and it's hard not to disagree with the logic of a HECS-type funding arrangement for those in the sporting industry. It doesn't seem very fair at all.


Peter Neufeld Mosman


Sport is not yet religion (albeit close), and reaching for gold in either should not be exempt from either HECS or tax. Thanks, Ben Quilty, for leading the charge.


Simon Hutt Bathurst


Ben Quilty is right. Our sporting ''heroes'' have had it too easy for too long. They consume a huge part of our tax dollars, before consuming a huge amount of drugs and making nuisances of themselves while underperforming in their chosen sport. At least when artists take drugs they can do some interesting work and not keep their colleagues up all night.


John Byrne Randwick


Just do the sums


Your editorial leads off on Thursday with the heading ''Cool or not, maths teaching is vital to the national interest'' (February 28). Absolutely true.


As an ex-teacher of maths I have long despaired of the attitude to maths among our home-grown students. There has been a decline in the number of both boys and girls studying this subject for the HSC. And our figures are slightly skewed to the upside when you consider the number of Asian students presenting in maths.


Our home-grown students see maths as too difficult, not sexy, and basically uncool. This story is repeated in the Anglo world.


The numbers doing maths in Asia are on the rise and that from an already high base. It is often remarked that this and future centuries will witness the transfer of economic power from west to east. And a good knowledge of maths will underpin this transfer.


Our western society is too prone to the gimmicky and sexy. Unless we wake up and embrace the discipline of maths, our future will be as users of technology rather than creators.


Michael Kennedy West Pymble


Water bills online


Andree Taylor (Letters, February 23) was on the money observing the digital age not only allows customers to receive and pay their bills online but can help protect the environment as well. However, it is incorrect to say Sydney Water hasn't provided this service to its customers. It was one of the first Australian businesses to offer online billing through the BPAY View service. In the past year, Sydney Water has delivered more than 100,000 online bills to its customers.


Andrew Arnott


Chief Executive Officer, BPAY


Titanic gesture to China


Clive Palmer has declared the cost of the new Titanic is not really a problem (''Professor Palmer's ship comes in'', February 28). Why then give it to China? It is a great pity then that none of the benefits will flow to Australia where he literally made his pile. No raw materials and no employment here. Nothing for us to shout about for this Liberal Party supporter and true blue Aussie.


Ian Kerr Galston


There are children in their thousands dying of malnutrition. There are children in their thousands dying of preventable disease. There are children in their thousands denied an education. There are children in their thousands living in institutions because their parents have given them up, unwilling or unable to care for them. And a disgustingly rich man Clive Palmer would prefer to make his name and gain himself publicity by refloating an unsinkable ship.


When Jesus said it was easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle than to enter the gates of heaven, I have a feeling he was speaking of the priorities of the rich.


Genevieve Milton Newtown


Teach Pyne a lesson


Just like the indecent invocation of the ''boat people threat'' as a distracting scare tactic to divert people's attention away from punishing the Howard government over the abysmal implementation of the GST, Christopher Pyne invokes ''didactic teaching methods'' and teacher standards as a solution to education issues (''Old school is way to go, says Pyne'', February 28). Instead, he should just do the decent thing and support the Gonski reforms.


Brenton White Mosman


No surprise PM goes west again


Why are people so cynical about Julia Gillard's visit to western Sydney? As a resident of western Sydney I have seen her come here ''every year'' to explain what her government is about.


The only reason people have not noticed this is because everyone in Australia, bar the ALP caucus, came down in the last shower.


Sunil Chandra Seven Hills


The battle for Rooty Hill will be a shocking defeat without Kevin the Lionheart: Australians want the rightful king restored to the throne, even if they don't choose him again at the next election.


John Dobinson


North Balwyn (Vic)


Not a pretty sight


Jon Stirzaker (Letters, February 28) goes straight to the inherent hypocrisy of the breast-feeding incident. Granted, it will always be hard to find public consensus on the level of body exposure deemed acceptable in public spaces. The Satellite cafe event is merely a rather shrill manifestation of that.


Personally, I find the sight of men (usually of a certain age, i.e. should know better) who expose their not-so-manly torsos in public a problem. Keep it strictly for the beach, fellas, or for mowing the lawn on the weekend. It is not a good look in your local shopping mall.


Anthea Doe Russell Lea


Senior executive service the issue


Premier Barry O'Farrell wants an innovative, professional and accountable public service that encourages and rewards performance and delivers the best possible frontline services for local communities (''O'Farrell to end managers' five-year contracts'', February 28). He thinks the five-year contracts of senior managers are the problem and proposes offering them ongoing contracts conditional on meeting performance benchmarks.


Surely that is moving from the sublime to the ridiculous. Any state public servant will tell you how difficult it is to monitor performance where multiple levels of management and little productivity exist. The bloated senior executive service, up from 280 to 1600, now even includes managers who do not manage people.


The real rotten apple in the system is that the bloating of the NSW senior executive service has come about through rewarding of sycophants and political lackeys with fancy-titled positions. They are well paid, strut the stage feeling important, but do little that is productive, leaving the bulk of work to their lesser-paid minions. If they are found to be grossly inefficient in managing people, then they are simply (for example) moved onwards and often upwards to managing buildings or finance where they will wreak less havoc.


When Nick Greiner introduced the senior executive service, it was to attract the top echelon of industry into the state public service. Instead, it has become a trough of convenience that can no longer cope with the number of snouts in it.


Jim Gentles Coogee


Think laterally and go deeper


I feel that the howls of ridicule aimed at the PM's exciting idea are unfair (''Dam project just the start in wooing of western Sydney,'' smh.com.au, February 28). Perhaps it simply needs some lateral thought. Rather than raising the sides of Warragamba Dam, might it not be more practical simply to lower the bottom?


Tim Parker Balmain


The good seed


If Barry O'Farrell spied our eight-year-old daughter at Nick Cave's Tuesday night performance, neither he, nor anyone else, was moved to call in the child protectors (''New album enchants but intensity, flow lacking'', February 28).


Yes, it was a school night and the language was raw and coarse, but most of that swept over her head and she was instead focused on the music and the performers. Far from traumatising this aspiring musician, they inspired her. I suspect she may also now have less tolerance for the lip-synching, computer-generated music often favoured by her peers.


Had DOCS attempted to ''rescue'' our daughter, we would have suggested their time be better spent knocking at the homes of eight-year-olds who spend hours engaged in sexually explicit and violent video games.


Rachel Ferguson Mosman


It's what they do


Jonathan McIlroy (Letters, February 28) asks ''Will we ever be able to believe a word that comes out of this Prime Minister's mouth?'' Why limit incredulity to a single member of Parliament? Surely the old aphorism applies pretty well across the major parties: ''You can tell when politicians are lying - because their lips are moving.''


Ashley Collard Fairlight


Going begging


Labor's public relations are appalling. The Gillard government has a huge range of accomplishments it should be telling the electorate about, but instead it has allowed itself to be distracted, long-term, by the antics of a negative and policy-deprived opposition. Gillard needs a Minister for Show and Tell.


Barrie Smillie Duffy (ACT)


Awe of physics


As someone who failed physics in the Leaving Certificate I can only marvel at the ingenuity of Brendan McMonigal proposing to his partner, Christie Nelan, via a physics graph (''With this physics paper I thee … graph of true love turns into proposal'', February 28).


I wish them both a lifetime of health and happiness among the stars, reaching heights the rest of us can only dream about - and even the oldies, such as Newton and Einstein, are blown away into a different dimension with admiration.


Peter Skrzynecki Eastwood


Granting wishes


The new Herald may be compact, but the letters page will still be a broad church.


John Christie Oatley


Oh to be the final letter at the bottom of the eighth column on the last broadsheet letters page!


Allan Gibson Cherrybrook




"Labor can change and be that party again. Or is can be the party of Eddie Obeid."

"Labor can change and be that party again. Or it can be the party of Eddie Obeid." Photo: Michele Mossop



Many in the political class - politicians, aides, consultants, even many journalists - have decided the crisis facing the Labor Party in NSW can be explained away in one man, or at least one family: the Obeids.


Labor is wallowing around, sometimes below, a 30 per cent primary vote supposedly because of the bad news out of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. The former Labor MP and patriarch Eddie Obeid was apparently so omnipotent he leant on ministers for alleged favours worth an estimated $75 million and felled unco-operative party leaders at will.


So the answer seems simple. Expel Obeid from the party, declare your disgust at, and distance from, him. ''I've never met Eddie Obeid and I never want to,'' the federal minister Greg Combet told the ABC at the weekend. It was a truthful, curt response. End of conversation. Sorry, too easy.


Edward Moses Obeid and his disgraced former colleague Ian Macdonald are not the cause of Labor's crisis. They are the symptoms.


On this page last week, Waleed Aly wrote persuasively about Labor's loss of that unfashionable but vital commodity: ideology. But that was only chapter one in the explanation of the party's malaise. Chapter two is about Labor's crisis of character and ethics.


In an ethical and democratic party, people such as Obeid and Macdonald would have never achieved office, let alone power. If both men had been compelled to seek support among a mass membership, and compete on a level playing field with those who did not have, in Obeid's case, wealth or, in Macdonald's, the blind support of some decent union leaders who should have known better, they would have fallen at the first hurdle.


Labor's version of the Old Testament prophet, the former education minister Rodney Cavalier, has been crying in the wilderness for almost 20 years about the democratic deficit inside his party. After every election debacle, those with a vested interest in keeping power - even if it is power amid a smoking ruin - insist that ''we in the party have to stop talking about ourselves''. Their tactic is to deflect.


But as Cavalier argues, the structure and processes of the Labor Party are everything because they determine everything. Who will decide the policy? Who will choose the candidates? Who will represent those policies in the electorate? Who will decide the leader who explains those policies to voters?


Only by being a truly democratic organisation, where every member's vote is equal and all MPs - from leader down to backbencher - are required to face a regular ballot of all party members to keep their endorsements, can Labor can restore its ethical base. Only through such a transparent process will Labor again attract people of strong character.


One of the party's most serious deficiencies is that its MPs are arguably the most coddled in Australian politics. Many will invoke stories of widowed mothers and hard-scrabble childhoods. But the truth is, from the moment they joined Young Labor and pledged fealty to one of the personality cliques - for they cannot be called ideological factions - they were set. The well-paid job in the minister's office or the union followed, then the seat in Parliament.


Now Labor is facing defeat federally and can no longer dispense patronage in NSW, and with many unions financially squeezed, Cavalier is considering opening a book on who among the ambitious Labor youngsters will be the first to defect to the Liberals. Being of Presbyterian stock, there is no money involved in Cavalier's ''book''.


From the late 1990s, few state Labor MPs faced party members in ballots for their jobs. But many, such as Macdonald, became vulnerable to, if not reliant on, the Obeids of this world.


The former NSW planning minister Frank Sartor told ICAC about how Obeid was trying to coax him into Parliament from the lord mayoralty of Sydney. Obeid thought Sartor could be an ally, even an acolyte. When Sartor joked that he wouldn't mind a million-dollar nest-egg in his bereft superannuation, Obeid allegedly told him, ''I think I can help you with that.''


Sartor knew when to back off - and no doubt remembered why he had spent all those years as an independent alderman fighting Labor's machine.


A party that attracts people of strong character, who are prepared to run in impossible preselections, to lose but run again; to contest unwinnable seats, to fall and rise again; and to lose elections because of principle and policy, rather than because of self-made scandal, as in the 2011 NSW election, will ultimately prevail. Labor can change and be that party again. Or it can be the party of Eddie Obeid.


Andrew West is the presenter of the Religion & Ethics Report on ABC Radio National. Disclosure: Between 1985 and 1997 he was a member of the Labor Party.



Labor must get to the heart of the rot - Sydney Morning Herald


"Labor can change and be that party again. Or is can be the party of Eddie Obeid."

"Labor can change and be that party again. Or it can be the party of Eddie Obeid." Photo: Michele Mossop



Many in the political class - politicians, aides, consultants, even many journalists - have decided the crisis facing the Labor Party in NSW can be explained away in one man, or at least one family: the Obeids.


Labor is wallowing around, sometimes below, a 30 per cent primary vote supposedly because of the bad news out of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. The former Labor MP and patriarch Eddie Obeid was apparently so omnipotent he leant on ministers for alleged favours worth an estimated $75 million and felled unco-operative party leaders at will.


So the answer seems simple. Expel Obeid from the party, declare your disgust at, and distance from, him. ''I've never met Eddie Obeid and I never want to,'' the federal minister Greg Combet told the ABC at the weekend. It was a truthful, curt response. End of conversation. Sorry, too easy.


Edward Moses Obeid and his disgraced former colleague Ian Macdonald are not the cause of Labor's crisis. They are the symptoms.


On this page last week, Waleed Aly wrote persuasively about Labor's loss of that unfashionable but vital commodity: ideology. But that was only chapter one in the explanation of the party's malaise. Chapter two is about Labor's crisis of character and ethics.


In an ethical and democratic party, people such as Obeid and Macdonald would have never achieved office, let alone power. If both men had been compelled to seek support among a mass membership, and compete on a level playing field with those who did not have, in Obeid's case, wealth or, in Macdonald's, the blind support of some decent union leaders who should have known better, they would have fallen at the first hurdle.


Labor's version of the Old Testament prophet, the former education minister Rodney Cavalier, has been crying in the wilderness for almost 20 years about the democratic deficit inside his party. After every election debacle, those with a vested interest in keeping power - even if it is power amid a smoking ruin - insist that ''we in the party have to stop talking about ourselves''. Their tactic is to deflect.


But as Cavalier argues, the structure and processes of the Labor Party are everything because they determine everything. Who will decide the policy? Who will choose the candidates? Who will represent those policies in the electorate? Who will decide the leader who explains those policies to voters?


Only by being a truly democratic organisation, where every member's vote is equal and all MPs - from leader down to backbencher - are required to face a regular ballot of all party members to keep their endorsements, can Labor can restore its ethical base. Only through such a transparent process will Labor again attract people of strong character.


One of the party's most serious deficiencies is that its MPs are arguably the most coddled in Australian politics. Many will invoke stories of widowed mothers and hard-scrabble childhoods. But the truth is, from the moment they joined Young Labor and pledged fealty to one of the personality cliques - for they cannot be called ideological factions - they were set. The well-paid job in the minister's office or the union followed, then the seat in Parliament.


Now Labor is facing defeat federally and can no longer dispense patronage in NSW, and with many unions financially squeezed, Cavalier is considering opening a book on who among the ambitious Labor youngsters will be the first to defect to the Liberals. Being of Presbyterian stock, there is no money involved in Cavalier's ''book''.


From the late 1990s, few state Labor MPs faced party members in ballots for their jobs. But many, such as Macdonald, became vulnerable to, if not reliant on, the Obeids of this world.


The former NSW planning minister Frank Sartor told ICAC about how Obeid was trying to coax him into Parliament from the lord mayoralty of Sydney. Obeid thought Sartor could be an ally, even an acolyte. When Sartor joked that he wouldn't mind a million-dollar nest-egg in his bereft superannuation, Obeid allegedly told him, ''I think I can help you with that.''


Sartor knew when to back off - and no doubt remembered why he had spent all those years as an independent alderman fighting Labor's machine.


A party that attracts people of strong character, who are prepared to run in impossible preselections, to lose but run again; to contest unwinnable seats, to fall and rise again; and to lose elections because of principle and policy, rather than because of self-made scandal, as in the 2011 NSW election, will ultimately prevail. Labor can change and be that party again. Or it can be the party of Eddie Obeid.


Andrew West is the presenter of the Religion & Ethics Report on ABC Radio National. Disclosure: Between 1985 and 1997 he was a member of the Labor Party.





ANALYSIS


If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, on what substrate is the long path to the federal election based? Great ideas? Thought bubbles?


Grand infrastructure projects previously deemed worthy but unaffordable are perfect candidates for a fiscally-starved election environment where the game is reduced to seeking credit for the announcement rather than actually delivering on the policy.


''Apparent'' commitments have significant dollars attached. But there's the trap.


New money mostly comes as seed funding, lumbering future governments or cash-strapped state and local authorities with finding the lion's share.


The most recent example is the federal government's $100 million fund (over two years) to undertake major flood mitigation works in Queensland and NSW - the bulk of it in western Sydney.


But what at first blush seems totally sound rings hollow on closer inspection.


The estimated cost of extending the height of Warragamba dam is between $500 million and $1 billion.


The long-term benefits may be great but the outlay has been too much for governments past, even during bountiful times - which these are not.


Ms Gillard's pledged $50 million from the fund is so far short of the building cost as to suggest the project will remain where it has languished for a long while - on the drawing board.


Underscoring the haste and political expediency behind the announcement is the fact that the NSW government was already scoping out the project but had not been consulted before Thursday's announcement.


The idea follows just weeks after Tony Abbott's own dam-dreaming replete with an oft-dismissed ambition to transform the north of Australia into a lush food-bowl for Asia. Thought bubbles it seems, are the order of this extended campaign.




Big plan likely to stay on the drawing board - Sydney Morning Herald



ANALYSIS


If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, on what substrate is the long path to the federal election based? Great ideas? Thought bubbles?


Grand infrastructure projects previously deemed worthy but unaffordable are perfect candidates for a fiscally-starved election environment where the game is reduced to seeking credit for the announcement rather than actually delivering on the policy.


''Apparent'' commitments have significant dollars attached. But there's the trap.


New money mostly comes as seed funding, lumbering future governments or cash-strapped state and local authorities with finding the lion's share.


The most recent example is the federal government's $100 million fund (over two years) to undertake major flood mitigation works in Queensland and NSW - the bulk of it in western Sydney.


But what at first blush seems totally sound rings hollow on closer inspection.


The estimated cost of extending the height of Warragamba dam is between $500 million and $1 billion.


The long-term benefits may be great but the outlay has been too much for governments past, even during bountiful times - which these are not.


Ms Gillard's pledged $50 million from the fund is so far short of the building cost as to suggest the project will remain where it has languished for a long while - on the drawing board.


Underscoring the haste and political expediency behind the announcement is the fact that the NSW government was already scoping out the project but had not been consulted before Thursday's announcement.


The idea follows just weeks after Tony Abbott's own dam-dreaming replete with an oft-dismissed ambition to transform the north of Australia into a lush food-bowl for Asia. Thought bubbles it seems, are the order of this extended campaign.





Annandale Hotel

"Let off steam" ... Matt Rule, seated. Photo: Anthony Johnson



A former owner of the Annandale Hotel has launched an expletive-laden spray at Leichhardt Municipal Council, which reversed its long opposition to live music after the receivers finally moved in to sell the business.


Matthew Rule's online remarks follow a unanimous vote by council this week to adopt a "Good Neighbour Policy" to end legal action against music venues.


It's a marked departure from the council's combative encounters with Mr Rule and his brother Daniel that took a financial toll in the years they owned the Annandale.


Mr Rule had previously complained about fighting council on everything from development applications to outdoor seating. A protracted Land and Environment Court battle over late-night trading and noise compliance cost the brothers more than $200,000.


Mr Rule writes the council "put us through unimaginable amounts of stress as we scratched every day to figure out how to pay the bills and keep the doors open". They were finally forced to hand the keys to Ferrier Hodgson in February.


On Monday, Mayor Darcy Byrne met with receivers Ferrier Hodgson and invited them to submit an application for extended trading hours to make the hotel more financially viable as a live music venue.


“The reign of the fun police at Leichhardt Council is officially over," Cr Byrne said on Tuesday. "From now on, council will take responsibility for resolving noise complaints amicably instead of forcing music venues to shut their doors."


In his post, Mr Rule accuses the council of "gifting the receivers . . . a late licence the minute we are out on our arses" while it "ultimately contributed to us losing a business we struggled to for 13 years to keep alive, our family losing money and my brother and I stone motherless broke".


Mr Rule said after weeks of keeping quiet on the hotel's fate, the post served to "let off steam".


"With all the good intentions in the world it's not going to help us," he said of the new policy position, admitting he was preparing for bankruptcy and "still filthy at the last council".


"You wanna save live music at the Annandale Hotel," he writes in the post, "give us back the probably $500k all of the above more than likely cost us so we can have out business back.


"Hand us the late licence and support the two people who 13 years ago when it wasn't trendy or politically advantageous to support live music . . . had a massive f---king crack!"


Cr Byrne said the Rule brothers had a right to be furious with the "wrong, opportunistic and short-sighted" decision by the previous council that forced the venue to close early.


"In pandering to three NIMBY complainers instead of standing up for this iconic venue the previous council contributed directly to today's crisis," he said.


Cr Byrne pointed out his own actions included meeting with the Rule brothers to offer his "unqualified support" before the last election, and moving to overturn council's prosecution of venues after becoming mayor five months ago.


"I remain as committed as ever to seeing the hotel continue as an iconic live music venue which is why I have invited the receivers to apply for extended trading hours," he said.



Ex-publican's foul-mouthed spray at council - Sydney Morning Herald


Annandale Hotel

"Let off steam" ... Matt Rule, seated. Photo: Anthony Johnson



A former owner of the Annandale Hotel has launched an expletive-laden spray at Leichhardt Municipal Council, which reversed its long opposition to live music after the receivers finally moved in to sell the business.


Matthew Rule's online remarks follow a unanimous vote by council this week to adopt a "Good Neighbour Policy" to end legal action against music venues.


It's a marked departure from the council's combative encounters with Mr Rule and his brother Daniel that took a financial toll in the years they owned the Annandale.


Mr Rule had previously complained about fighting council on everything from development applications to outdoor seating. A protracted Land and Environment Court battle over late-night trading and noise compliance cost the brothers more than $200,000.


Mr Rule writes the council "put us through unimaginable amounts of stress as we scratched every day to figure out how to pay the bills and keep the doors open". They were finally forced to hand the keys to Ferrier Hodgson in February.


On Monday, Mayor Darcy Byrne met with receivers Ferrier Hodgson and invited them to submit an application for extended trading hours to make the hotel more financially viable as a live music venue.


“The reign of the fun police at Leichhardt Council is officially over," Cr Byrne said on Tuesday. "From now on, council will take responsibility for resolving noise complaints amicably instead of forcing music venues to shut their doors."


In his post, Mr Rule accuses the council of "gifting the receivers . . . a late licence the minute we are out on our arses" while it "ultimately contributed to us losing a business we struggled to for 13 years to keep alive, our family losing money and my brother and I stone motherless broke".


Mr Rule said after weeks of keeping quiet on the hotel's fate, the post served to "let off steam".


"With all the good intentions in the world it's not going to help us," he said of the new policy position, admitting he was preparing for bankruptcy and "still filthy at the last council".


"You wanna save live music at the Annandale Hotel," he writes in the post, "give us back the probably $500k all of the above more than likely cost us so we can have out business back.


"Hand us the late licence and support the two people who 13 years ago when it wasn't trendy or politically advantageous to support live music . . . had a massive f---king crack!"


Cr Byrne said the Rule brothers had a right to be furious with the "wrong, opportunistic and short-sighted" decision by the previous council that forced the venue to close early.


"In pandering to three NIMBY complainers instead of standing up for this iconic venue the previous council contributed directly to today's crisis," he said.


Cr Byrne pointed out his own actions included meeting with the Rule brothers to offer his "unqualified support" before the last election, and moving to overturn council's prosecution of venues after becoming mayor five months ago.


"I remain as committed as ever to seeing the hotel continue as an iconic live music venue which is why I have invited the receivers to apply for extended trading hours," he said.






Isabelle White


Isabelle White, as a Blacktown councillor, with Opposition Deputy Leader Julie Bishop and Senator Marise Payne. Source: News Limited






Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham has challenged Julia Gillard to unveil new policies that meet the needs of the people of Western Sydney during her visit next week.







THIS is the 22-year-old university student who has scared Julia Gillard into sleeping over at Rooty Hill in Western Sydney for a week.



Isabelle White is the Liberal Party's candidate for the electorate named after Labor great Ben Chifley, a seat Labor had not contemplated the possibility of losing until recently.


The young candidate, already a Blacktown councillor, said sceptics thought she was too young and aiming too high when she was preselected in July, but Labor's fortunes in western Sydney have become dire, leaving her a chance in the seat held by Ed Husic by 12 per cent.


"People will think that I am young and people will say `she hasn't got life experience'. I don't think it is really fair to judge a person's experience on their age, you don't know what someone has been through in their life," she said yesterday.


Digital Pass $1 for first 28 Days

"I have got a younger brother who has autism, I had an older brother who passed away, he had leukemia.


"In my life I have watched my parents struggle through having a child in hospital with a chronic illness and another child who is severely disabled.


"These are the challenges that face a lot of families in the area. Who is anyone to say `you don't have enough experience or you don't understand these things because you are 22?"'


Ms White, who is studying education at Sydney University and between council duties is a shift manager at a local Gloria Jeans, has doorknocked two entire suburbs.


People often exclaim "wow" when they meet her due to her age, she said, but Ms White said it was rare that people told her they wouldn't vote for her because she was so young.


During door knocking, she said the main issues of concern for voters were the carbon tax and boat arrivals, especially amongst immigrants who had reached Australia via regular means.


She is being assisted by the youngest MP and the longest serving in Liberals Wyatt Roy, 22 and Philip Ruddock, who was first elected in 1973.


"She is relatively young...being young doesn't prevent a successful career. She knows she is running in a seat that will be hard to win," Mr Ruddock said.


"I see somebody who is focussed on doing what she can to serve the community."


Ms White said she speaks to Mr Roy, who was elected to Longman in Queensland aged 20, on the phone regularly.



Meet Isabelle White, Liberal candidate for Chifley - The Australian




Isabelle White


Isabelle White, as a Blacktown councillor, with Opposition Deputy Leader Julie Bishop and Senator Marise Payne. Source: News Limited






Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham has challenged Julia Gillard to unveil new policies that meet the needs of the people of Western Sydney during her visit next week.







THIS is the 22-year-old university student who has scared Julia Gillard into sleeping over at Rooty Hill in Western Sydney for a week.



Isabelle White is the Liberal Party's candidate for the electorate named after Labor great Ben Chifley, a seat Labor had not contemplated the possibility of losing until recently.


The young candidate, already a Blacktown councillor, said sceptics thought she was too young and aiming too high when she was preselected in July, but Labor's fortunes in western Sydney have become dire, leaving her a chance in the seat held by Ed Husic by 12 per cent.


"People will think that I am young and people will say `she hasn't got life experience'. I don't think it is really fair to judge a person's experience on their age, you don't know what someone has been through in their life," she said yesterday.


Digital Pass $1 for first 28 Days

"I have got a younger brother who has autism, I had an older brother who passed away, he had leukemia.


"In my life I have watched my parents struggle through having a child in hospital with a chronic illness and another child who is severely disabled.


"These are the challenges that face a lot of families in the area. Who is anyone to say `you don't have enough experience or you don't understand these things because you are 22?"'


Ms White, who is studying education at Sydney University and between council duties is a shift manager at a local Gloria Jeans, has doorknocked two entire suburbs.


People often exclaim "wow" when they meet her due to her age, she said, but Ms White said it was rare that people told her they wouldn't vote for her because she was so young.


During door knocking, she said the main issues of concern for voters were the carbon tax and boat arrivals, especially amongst immigrants who had reached Australia via regular means.


She is being assisted by the youngest MP and the longest serving in Liberals Wyatt Roy, 22 and Philip Ruddock, who was first elected in 1973.


"She is relatively young...being young doesn't prevent a successful career. She knows she is running in a seat that will be hard to win," Mr Ruddock said.


"I see somebody who is focussed on doing what she can to serve the community."


Ms White said she speaks to Mr Roy, who was elected to Longman in Queensland aged 20, on the phone regularly.




Headliner: All Too Hard is a short-priced favourite to win the Australian Guineas on Saturday.

Headliner: All Too Hard is a short-priced favourite to win the Australian Guineas at Flemington on Saturday. Photo: Jenny Evans



THE only reservation against Australia's two best three-year-old colts not adding to their already imposing winning records in Sydney and Melbourne on Saturday could be having to contend with a rain-affected track.


With the opposition appearing manageable for All Too Hard in the Australian Guineas at Flemington and Pierro (Hobartville Stakes, Rosehill), only heavy rain could prove their undoing.


All Too Hard's co-trainer, Wayne Hawkes, said he was pleased the rain that had saturated parts of Victoria this week had finally begun to abate.


''We had a lot of rain out at Flemington and you wouldn't want to see the track become very wet,'' he said.


Flemington was rated a dead 4 late on Thursday, and the forecast is for fine conditions.


In Sydney, the track is also a dead 4, but more rain is forecast on Friday and the weekend. Trainer Gai Waterhouse would prefer a dry track for the return to racing of two-year-old triple crown winner Pierro.


Hawkes is confident All Too Hard - a long odds-on favourite in early markets - will successfully back up from last Saturday's win in the group 1 Futurity Stakes and add the Australian Guineas to his resume.


''I wish we had drawn a single-figure barrier, but we didn't, so we have to go with it. In the end it will be up to [jockey] Dwayne Dunn to work it out,'' he said.


''We didn't need a wide gate like 14, but apart from all of that we couldn't be happier. I just hope we don't get any more rain.''


Pierro, who is unbeaten in Sydney, will not have the blinkers on for his autumn return. ''He is a much more mature horse and might not need them,'' Waterhouse said.


''I always have the option of putting them back on him. He is going to eventually go to stud and there can be a knock on a horse if he wears blinkers in Europe. He is an outstanding horse and I'm sure he can be just as impressive without them.''


Pierro's autumn campaign starts almost a year to the day since winning the Silver Slipper, in a preparation that netted him wins in Sydney's three group 1 juvenile classics.


The son of Lonhro is already a sought-after stallion prospect, but owner Greg Kolivos wants to enjoy his racing career before worrying about sealing a future at stud.


All Too Hard - Pierro's conqueror in the Caulfield Guineas in the spring - has already been syndicated for more than $20 million.


''The Slipper is the race you want to win to be a stallion in Australia, and he [Pierro] did that and then became the only colt in 30 years to win the triple crown,'' Waterhouse said.


''It shows how exceptional he is. [A stud deal] is something we have to be aware of going forward and it makes us think about where we will go with him. This race will tell us a lot about what program we will take against a very good year of three-year-olds. It is going to be exciting to see these horses all meet … we know Pierro is up with the very best of them.''


Waterhouse has timed Pierro's return to have him at his peak for a possible return clash with All Too Hard in the Randwick Guineas in a fortnight.


The two top colts have met four times and the record is two apiece - Pierro taking honours in the Sires' Produce and Run To The Rose in Sydney, and All Too Hard beating him home in the Caulfield Guineas and Cox Plate in Melbourne.


Waterhouse has been delighted with reports from Pierro's track rider this week. ''He says he knows when [Pierro] is ready to go to the races because he starts squealing,'' she said. ''This week, as he has gone on and off the track, he has been squealing. His regular rider just said to me, 'He's ready'.''


Waterhouse will also start her exciting prospect Proisir in the Hobartville. ''Both owners were happy to go to this race and it will decide a lot about where they go from here,'' she said. ''They are two lovely horses … Pierro is probably a bit ahead of Proisir on what they have done on the track.''



Weather watch on colts - Sydney Morning Herald


Headliner: All Too Hard is a short-priced favourite to win the Australian Guineas on Saturday.

Headliner: All Too Hard is a short-priced favourite to win the Australian Guineas at Flemington on Saturday. Photo: Jenny Evans



THE only reservation against Australia's two best three-year-old colts not adding to their already imposing winning records in Sydney and Melbourne on Saturday could be having to contend with a rain-affected track.


With the opposition appearing manageable for All Too Hard in the Australian Guineas at Flemington and Pierro (Hobartville Stakes, Rosehill), only heavy rain could prove their undoing.


All Too Hard's co-trainer, Wayne Hawkes, said he was pleased the rain that had saturated parts of Victoria this week had finally begun to abate.


''We had a lot of rain out at Flemington and you wouldn't want to see the track become very wet,'' he said.


Flemington was rated a dead 4 late on Thursday, and the forecast is for fine conditions.


In Sydney, the track is also a dead 4, but more rain is forecast on Friday and the weekend. Trainer Gai Waterhouse would prefer a dry track for the return to racing of two-year-old triple crown winner Pierro.


Hawkes is confident All Too Hard - a long odds-on favourite in early markets - will successfully back up from last Saturday's win in the group 1 Futurity Stakes and add the Australian Guineas to his resume.


''I wish we had drawn a single-figure barrier, but we didn't, so we have to go with it. In the end it will be up to [jockey] Dwayne Dunn to work it out,'' he said.


''We didn't need a wide gate like 14, but apart from all of that we couldn't be happier. I just hope we don't get any more rain.''


Pierro, who is unbeaten in Sydney, will not have the blinkers on for his autumn return. ''He is a much more mature horse and might not need them,'' Waterhouse said.


''I always have the option of putting them back on him. He is going to eventually go to stud and there can be a knock on a horse if he wears blinkers in Europe. He is an outstanding horse and I'm sure he can be just as impressive without them.''


Pierro's autumn campaign starts almost a year to the day since winning the Silver Slipper, in a preparation that netted him wins in Sydney's three group 1 juvenile classics.


The son of Lonhro is already a sought-after stallion prospect, but owner Greg Kolivos wants to enjoy his racing career before worrying about sealing a future at stud.


All Too Hard - Pierro's conqueror in the Caulfield Guineas in the spring - has already been syndicated for more than $20 million.


''The Slipper is the race you want to win to be a stallion in Australia, and he [Pierro] did that and then became the only colt in 30 years to win the triple crown,'' Waterhouse said.


''It shows how exceptional he is. [A stud deal] is something we have to be aware of going forward and it makes us think about where we will go with him. This race will tell us a lot about what program we will take against a very good year of three-year-olds. It is going to be exciting to see these horses all meet … we know Pierro is up with the very best of them.''


Waterhouse has timed Pierro's return to have him at his peak for a possible return clash with All Too Hard in the Randwick Guineas in a fortnight.


The two top colts have met four times and the record is two apiece - Pierro taking honours in the Sires' Produce and Run To The Rose in Sydney, and All Too Hard beating him home in the Caulfield Guineas and Cox Plate in Melbourne.


Waterhouse has been delighted with reports from Pierro's track rider this week. ''He says he knows when [Pierro] is ready to go to the races because he starts squealing,'' she said. ''This week, as he has gone on and off the track, he has been squealing. His regular rider just said to me, 'He's ready'.''


Waterhouse will also start her exciting prospect Proisir in the Hobartville. ''Both owners were happy to go to this race and it will decide a lot about where they go from here,'' she said. ''They are two lovely horses … Pierro is probably a bit ahead of Proisir on what they have done on the track.''




EXCLUSIVE


Waiting game ... Sonny Bill Williams.

Waiting game ... Sonny Bill Williams. Photo: Getty Images



THE most anticipated comeback in rugby league history is less than a week away but Sonny Bill Williams's contract is yet to be registered by the NRL.


Williams's one-year deal with Sydney Roosters has yet to be ratified by salary cap auditor Ian Schubert, sparking fears the dual international may not take his place for the season opener against South Sydney on Thursday night.


Williams signed what Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan described as a ''vanilla'' contract in November. However, it appears the club has more work to do to placate Schubert, who hopped on a motorcycle on Thursday to join Brad Fittler and Nathan Hindmarsh on a charity ride to raise funds for Father Chris Riley's Youth off the Streets organisation.


''We are waiting for some information that has been requested from the club,'' NRL spokesman John Brady said. ''Everyone is aware of the need to process this as soon as possible.''


Despite being a huge drawcard, Williams did not feature in the NRL's advertising campaign, which was officially launched at the Star on Wednesday night.


Clubs have until Friday to lodge signed statutory declarations that they comply with the salary cap.


The prospect of Williams missing the blockbuster season opener would be an unmitigated disaster for the ARL Commission, with the match expected to be a ratings bonanza for Channel Nine.


Williams hasn't played in the NRL since controversially walking out on the Bulldogs five years ago and a capacity crowd is expected for the Allianz Stadium encounter.


Canavan said the club would lodge the required paperwork with the NRL ''in the next couple of days'' and did not foresee any further complications.


''There's a bit of paperwork to transpire,'' Canavan said. ''The registration is conditional on some paperwork to be supplied. There's a bit more detail [required] in some of the correspondence we sent through, which is virtually assembled now.''


Asked if there was a sticking point in registration, Canavan replied: ''We don't see it as one. It's just been ongoing, it's a unique situation and one that hasn't occurred before, I don't think.''


Roosters coach Trent Robinson said he was prepared to allow the former All Black to box again in the off-season if it meant extending his stay at Bondi Junction. Williams defeated Francois Botha three weeks ago to win the World Boxing Association international heavyweight belt in Brisbane.


''I'm definitely open to all of that type of thing,'' Robinson said. ''Knowing the person has been important in making those decisions. I was comfortable for him to do that [against Botha] and if that has to happen for us to keep him, I'd be happy with that again.''


NRL chief executive Dave Smith acknowledged the importance of Williams on the 2013 season, describing him as a ''fabulous athlete''.


''I've watched him box, I've watched him play rugby union, I've watched him play rugby league,'' Smith said. ''He'll be great for rugby league. I hear he's a pretty top bloke as well.


''I've not met him yet, but he's a fabulous athlete and I'm looking forward to seeing him on the field. I know there's been some controversy about the past, but I'm not about the past, I'm about the future. He's an amazing guy; he can do so much.''


Asked about his hope that Williams would remain in the NRL, Smith said: ''I want everybody to come into rugby league, and when they come in, they stay forever.


''We want to increase the rugby league family. I'm a new entrant to the rugby league family, I'm finding my way in there, but anybody who comes into our game, we want them to stay forever. We want them to be part of it forever.''


The NRL's contracting system has come under scrutiny following the length of time it took for Israel Folau's Parramatta offer to be scrutinised. Frustrated by the delays, Folau signed with the Waratahs.


And Josh Papalii has until round 13 to decide whether to honour his deal to join the Eels from next year or to remain with incumbent club Canberra.



Roosters still waiting for clearance on SBW contract - Sydney Morning Herald


EXCLUSIVE


Waiting game ... Sonny Bill Williams.

Waiting game ... Sonny Bill Williams. Photo: Getty Images



THE most anticipated comeback in rugby league history is less than a week away but Sonny Bill Williams's contract is yet to be registered by the NRL.


Williams's one-year deal with Sydney Roosters has yet to be ratified by salary cap auditor Ian Schubert, sparking fears the dual international may not take his place for the season opener against South Sydney on Thursday night.


Williams signed what Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan described as a ''vanilla'' contract in November. However, it appears the club has more work to do to placate Schubert, who hopped on a motorcycle on Thursday to join Brad Fittler and Nathan Hindmarsh on a charity ride to raise funds for Father Chris Riley's Youth off the Streets organisation.


''We are waiting for some information that has been requested from the club,'' NRL spokesman John Brady said. ''Everyone is aware of the need to process this as soon as possible.''


Despite being a huge drawcard, Williams did not feature in the NRL's advertising campaign, which was officially launched at the Star on Wednesday night.


Clubs have until Friday to lodge signed statutory declarations that they comply with the salary cap.


The prospect of Williams missing the blockbuster season opener would be an unmitigated disaster for the ARL Commission, with the match expected to be a ratings bonanza for Channel Nine.


Williams hasn't played in the NRL since controversially walking out on the Bulldogs five years ago and a capacity crowd is expected for the Allianz Stadium encounter.


Canavan said the club would lodge the required paperwork with the NRL ''in the next couple of days'' and did not foresee any further complications.


''There's a bit of paperwork to transpire,'' Canavan said. ''The registration is conditional on some paperwork to be supplied. There's a bit more detail [required] in some of the correspondence we sent through, which is virtually assembled now.''


Asked if there was a sticking point in registration, Canavan replied: ''We don't see it as one. It's just been ongoing, it's a unique situation and one that hasn't occurred before, I don't think.''


Roosters coach Trent Robinson said he was prepared to allow the former All Black to box again in the off-season if it meant extending his stay at Bondi Junction. Williams defeated Francois Botha three weeks ago to win the World Boxing Association international heavyweight belt in Brisbane.


''I'm definitely open to all of that type of thing,'' Robinson said. ''Knowing the person has been important in making those decisions. I was comfortable for him to do that [against Botha] and if that has to happen for us to keep him, I'd be happy with that again.''


NRL chief executive Dave Smith acknowledged the importance of Williams on the 2013 season, describing him as a ''fabulous athlete''.


''I've watched him box, I've watched him play rugby union, I've watched him play rugby league,'' Smith said. ''He'll be great for rugby league. I hear he's a pretty top bloke as well.


''I've not met him yet, but he's a fabulous athlete and I'm looking forward to seeing him on the field. I know there's been some controversy about the past, but I'm not about the past, I'm about the future. He's an amazing guy; he can do so much.''


Asked about his hope that Williams would remain in the NRL, Smith said: ''I want everybody to come into rugby league, and when they come in, they stay forever.


''We want to increase the rugby league family. I'm a new entrant to the rugby league family, I'm finding my way in there, but anybody who comes into our game, we want them to stay forever. We want them to be part of it forever.''


The NRL's contracting system has come under scrutiny following the length of time it took for Israel Folau's Parramatta offer to be scrutinised. Frustrated by the delays, Folau signed with the Waratahs.


And Josh Papalii has until round 13 to decide whether to honour his deal to join the Eels from next year or to remain with incumbent club Canberra.




The newspaper being printed in broadsheet form in Chullora.

Final print ... the Sydney Morning Herald in broadsheet form on the production line in Chullora. Photo: Jim Rice



''The more things change, the more they are the same.''


In spite of this paradoxical proverb, when things change they are likely to be different. Likely to be, but not always sure to be. Throughout the Herald's 182 years to date, culminating in Monday's compact format, things have sometimes changed without adversely affecting the paper's identity or its readers' loyalty. Those have remained the same.


First, there were changes of ownership and masthead - from The Sydney Herald (a weekly and eventually daily newspaper founded in 1831 by Ward Stephens, William McGarvie and Frederick Stokes) to The Sydney Morning Herald (bought from The Sydney Herald's founders in 1841 by John Fairfax and Charles Kemp, and given its longer name the following year).


Sir Warwick Fairfax shows his son, Warwick Jr, the Fairfax newspaper printing press.

Down through the generations ... Sir Warwick Fairfax shows his son, Warwick Jr, the Fairfax newspaper printing press. Photo: Fairfax Archives



In 1853 John Fairfax bought Kemp's half-interest in the paper, took his sons Charles and James into partnership, and three years later changed the Herald's imprint to John Fairfax & Sons. The corporate name later dropped ''& Sons'', became John Fairfax Ltd, John Fairfax Holdings Ltd and, in 2007, Fairfax Media Ltd.


Without venturing too far into the business labyrinth in which the Fairfax family lost control of the company in 1990, mention should be made of 26-year-old Warwick Fairfax's disastrous 1987 privatisation of the proprietorship founded by his great-great-grandfather. That was certainly one change that did not leave things the same. As media headlines of the day put it: ''$1 Bn Private Bid For Fairfax''; ''Fairfax Empire Split Up''; ''Fairfax Totters Under Back Breaking Debt''; and, finally, ''Banks End The Fairfax Era''.


Almost everything that could go wrong for young Warwick did go wrong. His plan had assumed, firstly, that other branches of the controlling Fairfax family would not have to be bought out, but would remain as minority shareholders. Secondly, his takeover vehicle, Tryart Pty Ltd, would be able to repay its bank funding by selling some of the captured assets. Both assumptions were wrong. The world sharemarket crashed at the wrong time for Warwick. Persisting nevertheless, he gained control of the company at enormous cost in bank debt. Falling out with his original advisers, he had to enlist new ones.


Mr and Mrs Warwick Fairfax in 1949.

Mr and Mrs Warwick Fairfax in 1949. Photo: Fairfax Archives



The privatised company, John Fairfax Group Pty Ltd, borrowed more hundreds of millions, and in 1988 refinanced with long-term bank debt and American junk bonds. Then the economy faltered, the interest burden became intolerable, the company restructured, tried in vain to do so a second time, and went into receivership.


So much for that, and the many complications that ensued. It is a relief to move instead to changes in technology and format at the Herald.


In 1853, the year in which the Fairfax family gained full proprietorship, the Herald became the first Australian newspaper to be printed by steam instead of hand-operated Columbian press. John Fairfax had bought this machinery during a return visit to his native Warwickshire, where he had published the Leamington Chronicle before migrating to Sydney.


Warwick Fairfax.

A young Warwick Fairfax Jr. Photo: Fairfax Archives



Gradually the technology improved. Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide were linked by telegraph in 1858, and in 1872 the first direct news cable from England reached the Herald in Sydney via Reuters. Electric light was installed in 1882 and during the next decade telephones began to ring. Mechanisation of typesetting started in 1895 with the introduction of Hattersley machines and these were soon followed by Monoline and Mergenthaler Linotypes. In 1908 the rat-a-tat of heavy upright typewriters was becoming a familiar sound in the reporters' room. Also in that year the Herald began using process blocks for the few illustrations relieving the grey uniformity of its broadsheet pages.


With the single exception of The West Australian in Perth, the Herald was the last metropolitan paper in Australia to devote its entire front page to classified advertising. That had always been the Herald's practice, and would remain so until late in World War II. The prime mover for overdue change on the front page - the news editor and future managing director, Angus McLachlan - wrote in his annual report for 1943: ''I strongly recommend that it would be better to make the change sooner rather than later - before the end of the war rather than after it. A great many changes have been necessitated by the restrictions of space during war-time, and even our more conservative readers have learned to accept changes in the Herald in these abnormal times. They would probably not attribute a change to front page news to any loss of restraint and discrimination by the Herald in the presentation of its news.''


The day of change was to be Saturday, April 15, 1944. By remarkable coincidence that was the day on which the Herald and Sydney's three other dailies (the Telegraph, Sun and Mirror) were planning to challenge what they regarded as clumsy and unnecessary military censorship. They were to do that by leaving telltale blank spaces where the censor had ordered controversial deletions from editorial copy. That would be a breach of censorship regulations and the fight would be on.


The Herald's general manager, Rupert Henderson, had agreed to this. At the last minute, however, McLachlan persuaded him that, as the obvious place for the proposed challenge would be the front page, which that day would be carrying news for the first time, readers seeing areas of blank space might well assume that the Herald had messed up the new format. So on that morning the only blank spaces on page 1 were those helping to create the distinctive layout and design, which were to survive with little change for decades to come. The lead story (''Gigantic Air Offensive Against Europe/Unceasing For 150 Hours'') carried a map of the target cities, and there were two photographs: one of 7th Division troops marching past the Cenotaph, across five columns; the other a single column block of US Admiral Halsey.


How much of McLachlan's accurate assessment of probable reader reaction to change might now be applied also to the Herald's new compact dimensions (30 centimetres wide, 40 centimetres deep) - which, as it happens, are not very different from those of the Sydney Herald's original format (26cm, 43cm)? Fairfax Media's announced intention to maintain high editorial standards would seem to rule out ''any loss of restraint and discrimination by the Herald in the presentation of its news''. It could also preserve the paper's identity and editorial tone, thus retaining readers' loyalty. Here's hoping.


Gavin Souter, a Herald journalist for 40 years (1947-1981), is the author of Company of Heralds (Melbourne University Press, 1981) and Heralds and Angels (MUP, 1991).



History makes way for compact future - Sydney Morning Herald


The newspaper being printed in broadsheet form in Chullora.

Final print ... the Sydney Morning Herald in broadsheet form on the production line in Chullora. Photo: Jim Rice



''The more things change, the more they are the same.''


In spite of this paradoxical proverb, when things change they are likely to be different. Likely to be, but not always sure to be. Throughout the Herald's 182 years to date, culminating in Monday's compact format, things have sometimes changed without adversely affecting the paper's identity or its readers' loyalty. Those have remained the same.


First, there were changes of ownership and masthead - from The Sydney Herald (a weekly and eventually daily newspaper founded in 1831 by Ward Stephens, William McGarvie and Frederick Stokes) to The Sydney Morning Herald (bought from The Sydney Herald's founders in 1841 by John Fairfax and Charles Kemp, and given its longer name the following year).


Sir Warwick Fairfax shows his son, Warwick Jr, the Fairfax newspaper printing press.

Down through the generations ... Sir Warwick Fairfax shows his son, Warwick Jr, the Fairfax newspaper printing press. Photo: Fairfax Archives



In 1853 John Fairfax bought Kemp's half-interest in the paper, took his sons Charles and James into partnership, and three years later changed the Herald's imprint to John Fairfax & Sons. The corporate name later dropped ''& Sons'', became John Fairfax Ltd, John Fairfax Holdings Ltd and, in 2007, Fairfax Media Ltd.


Without venturing too far into the business labyrinth in which the Fairfax family lost control of the company in 1990, mention should be made of 26-year-old Warwick Fairfax's disastrous 1987 privatisation of the proprietorship founded by his great-great-grandfather. That was certainly one change that did not leave things the same. As media headlines of the day put it: ''$1 Bn Private Bid For Fairfax''; ''Fairfax Empire Split Up''; ''Fairfax Totters Under Back Breaking Debt''; and, finally, ''Banks End The Fairfax Era''.


Almost everything that could go wrong for young Warwick did go wrong. His plan had assumed, firstly, that other branches of the controlling Fairfax family would not have to be bought out, but would remain as minority shareholders. Secondly, his takeover vehicle, Tryart Pty Ltd, would be able to repay its bank funding by selling some of the captured assets. Both assumptions were wrong. The world sharemarket crashed at the wrong time for Warwick. Persisting nevertheless, he gained control of the company at enormous cost in bank debt. Falling out with his original advisers, he had to enlist new ones.


Mr and Mrs Warwick Fairfax in 1949.

Mr and Mrs Warwick Fairfax in 1949. Photo: Fairfax Archives



The privatised company, John Fairfax Group Pty Ltd, borrowed more hundreds of millions, and in 1988 refinanced with long-term bank debt and American junk bonds. Then the economy faltered, the interest burden became intolerable, the company restructured, tried in vain to do so a second time, and went into receivership.


So much for that, and the many complications that ensued. It is a relief to move instead to changes in technology and format at the Herald.


In 1853, the year in which the Fairfax family gained full proprietorship, the Herald became the first Australian newspaper to be printed by steam instead of hand-operated Columbian press. John Fairfax had bought this machinery during a return visit to his native Warwickshire, where he had published the Leamington Chronicle before migrating to Sydney.


Warwick Fairfax.

A young Warwick Fairfax Jr. Photo: Fairfax Archives



Gradually the technology improved. Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide were linked by telegraph in 1858, and in 1872 the first direct news cable from England reached the Herald in Sydney via Reuters. Electric light was installed in 1882 and during the next decade telephones began to ring. Mechanisation of typesetting started in 1895 with the introduction of Hattersley machines and these were soon followed by Monoline and Mergenthaler Linotypes. In 1908 the rat-a-tat of heavy upright typewriters was becoming a familiar sound in the reporters' room. Also in that year the Herald began using process blocks for the few illustrations relieving the grey uniformity of its broadsheet pages.


With the single exception of The West Australian in Perth, the Herald was the last metropolitan paper in Australia to devote its entire front page to classified advertising. That had always been the Herald's practice, and would remain so until late in World War II. The prime mover for overdue change on the front page - the news editor and future managing director, Angus McLachlan - wrote in his annual report for 1943: ''I strongly recommend that it would be better to make the change sooner rather than later - before the end of the war rather than after it. A great many changes have been necessitated by the restrictions of space during war-time, and even our more conservative readers have learned to accept changes in the Herald in these abnormal times. They would probably not attribute a change to front page news to any loss of restraint and discrimination by the Herald in the presentation of its news.''


The day of change was to be Saturday, April 15, 1944. By remarkable coincidence that was the day on which the Herald and Sydney's three other dailies (the Telegraph, Sun and Mirror) were planning to challenge what they regarded as clumsy and unnecessary military censorship. They were to do that by leaving telltale blank spaces where the censor had ordered controversial deletions from editorial copy. That would be a breach of censorship regulations and the fight would be on.


The Herald's general manager, Rupert Henderson, had agreed to this. At the last minute, however, McLachlan persuaded him that, as the obvious place for the proposed challenge would be the front page, which that day would be carrying news for the first time, readers seeing areas of blank space might well assume that the Herald had messed up the new format. So on that morning the only blank spaces on page 1 were those helping to create the distinctive layout and design, which were to survive with little change for decades to come. The lead story (''Gigantic Air Offensive Against Europe/Unceasing For 150 Hours'') carried a map of the target cities, and there were two photographs: one of 7th Division troops marching past the Cenotaph, across five columns; the other a single column block of US Admiral Halsey.


How much of McLachlan's accurate assessment of probable reader reaction to change might now be applied also to the Herald's new compact dimensions (30 centimetres wide, 40 centimetres deep) - which, as it happens, are not very different from those of the Sydney Herald's original format (26cm, 43cm)? Fairfax Media's announced intention to maintain high editorial standards would seem to rule out ''any loss of restraint and discrimination by the Herald in the presentation of its news''. It could also preserve the paper's identity and editorial tone, thus retaining readers' loyalty. Here's hoping.


Gavin Souter, a Herald journalist for 40 years (1947-1981), is the author of Company of Heralds (Melbourne University Press, 1981) and Heralds and Angels (MUP, 1991).






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Policy consensus on dams?


The Nationals and Greens encourage the PM's Warragamba dam plan, but disagree on moves to expand the policy nationwide.





RAISING the Warragamba Dam wall by 23 metres will cost up to $800 million, it has been claimed, with experts divided over its value for reducing flooding.


The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, reignited debate by pledging $50 million to building up the dam wall by 23 metres.


Steve Knight, the executive engineer of the state government's dams safety committee, said without a higher dam wall, there was little scope for Warragamba to reduce downstream flooding in a big event.


Raising the dam wall ... if the Warragamba is raised 23m, 3715 more houses will be saved from flooding in a one in 100-year flood.

Raising the dam wall ... if the Warragamba is raised 23m, 3715 more houses will be saved from flooding in a one in 100-year flood.



''The full supply water level of the dam is very close to the top of the gates, compared with several metres lower at Wivenhoe Dam that provides flood mitigation space for Brisbane,'' he said.


However, Stuart Khan, a senior lecturer at the water research centre at the University of NSW, said while the risk was ''very real'' that the Hawkesbury Nepean Valley would flood, raising the height of Warragamba was the wrong way to deal with the issues.''It doesn't matter how big that dam is. It's not that it's not big enough; it's just that the management needs to change,'' he said. ''We need to reserve some storage capacity in the reservoir for when those big inflows come along.''


The Premier, Barry O'Farrell, was non-committal about the Prime Minister's suggestion for raising the wall of the dam because it was not backed with a sufficient financial commitment.


Warragamba Dam has opened the gates of the spillway as it overflows into the Nepean River.

Warragamba Dam has opened the gates of the spillway as it overflows into the Nepean River. Photo: Carlos Furtado



He declined to support the idea and would only say that the NSW government announced in December that it would review the major flood mitigation options in the Hawkesbury Nepean Valley.


He said it would look at ''minimising the potential economic and social impact of flooding within the catchment''.


The NSW Greens said the proposal was ''an expensive and ill-thought policy that fails to consider the cheaper, low-impact options''. The Greens MP John Kaye said ''at best it will be an expensive Band-Aid solution that will fail to effectively eliminate flood risk''.


Construction of Warragamba Dam in 1957.

Construction of Warragamba Dam in April 1957. Photo: RL Stewart



While the region has not had a major flood since 1991, it remains a focus of insurers and emergency service planners alike. The area has recorded 120 floods in the past two centuries but the influx of many more residents from Sydney's sprawl has raised the economic and human risks of future floods. The damage bill from a major flood is estimated to reach as high as $8 billion.


The biggest flood recorded in the river's history took place in 1867, when water levels at Windsor peaked at 19.3 metres. However, raising the dam wall by 23 metres would only have reduced the impact of a flood on that scale by four to five metres, a report commissioned by the state government last year found.


The cost of raising the wall, put at $411 million last year, is likely to be much higher when construction is complete.


''It would be $700 million to $800 million,'' said Amir Deen, a water consultant and former senior hydrologist with Sydney Catchment Authority.


''There would be water quality issues for Sydney'' during construction, he said.


Apart from the direct financial cost, building up the wall would massively expand Lake Burragorang, which would back up along about 118 kilometres of remote rivers behind the dam.


It would inundate about 7500 hectares of protected bushland and spill into three adjoining national parks.


''It's a wild, wild area that's beautifully rugged, with deep ravines, some sweeping bends with rock pebbles and glassy water,'' said Keith Muir, of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.


But, with the current dam, there remains a bigger danger of massive floods hitting thousands of homes downstream, said a former senior engineer at the dam, who declined to be named.


''It's got the potential for vast inflows,'' the engineer said. ''Keeping the dam partially lower would have a marginal effect on flooding. Those people sitting there are in danger as we speak,'' he said, noting the dam was full and more rain was on the way.



Experts split over value of raising dam wall - Sydney Morning Herald




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Policy consensus on dams?


The Nationals and Greens encourage the PM's Warragamba dam plan, but disagree on moves to expand the policy nationwide.





RAISING the Warragamba Dam wall by 23 metres will cost up to $800 million, it has been claimed, with experts divided over its value for reducing flooding.


The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, reignited debate by pledging $50 million to building up the dam wall by 23 metres.


Steve Knight, the executive engineer of the state government's dams safety committee, said without a higher dam wall, there was little scope for Warragamba to reduce downstream flooding in a big event.


Raising the dam wall ... if the Warragamba is raised 23m, 3715 more houses will be saved from flooding in a one in 100-year flood.

Raising the dam wall ... if the Warragamba is raised 23m, 3715 more houses will be saved from flooding in a one in 100-year flood.



''The full supply water level of the dam is very close to the top of the gates, compared with several metres lower at Wivenhoe Dam that provides flood mitigation space for Brisbane,'' he said.


However, Stuart Khan, a senior lecturer at the water research centre at the University of NSW, said while the risk was ''very real'' that the Hawkesbury Nepean Valley would flood, raising the height of Warragamba was the wrong way to deal with the issues.''It doesn't matter how big that dam is. It's not that it's not big enough; it's just that the management needs to change,'' he said. ''We need to reserve some storage capacity in the reservoir for when those big inflows come along.''


The Premier, Barry O'Farrell, was non-committal about the Prime Minister's suggestion for raising the wall of the dam because it was not backed with a sufficient financial commitment.


Warragamba Dam has opened the gates of the spillway as it overflows into the Nepean River.

Warragamba Dam has opened the gates of the spillway as it overflows into the Nepean River. Photo: Carlos Furtado



He declined to support the idea and would only say that the NSW government announced in December that it would review the major flood mitigation options in the Hawkesbury Nepean Valley.


He said it would look at ''minimising the potential economic and social impact of flooding within the catchment''.


The NSW Greens said the proposal was ''an expensive and ill-thought policy that fails to consider the cheaper, low-impact options''. The Greens MP John Kaye said ''at best it will be an expensive Band-Aid solution that will fail to effectively eliminate flood risk''.


Construction of Warragamba Dam in 1957.

Construction of Warragamba Dam in April 1957. Photo: RL Stewart



While the region has not had a major flood since 1991, it remains a focus of insurers and emergency service planners alike. The area has recorded 120 floods in the past two centuries but the influx of many more residents from Sydney's sprawl has raised the economic and human risks of future floods. The damage bill from a major flood is estimated to reach as high as $8 billion.


The biggest flood recorded in the river's history took place in 1867, when water levels at Windsor peaked at 19.3 metres. However, raising the dam wall by 23 metres would only have reduced the impact of a flood on that scale by four to five metres, a report commissioned by the state government last year found.


The cost of raising the wall, put at $411 million last year, is likely to be much higher when construction is complete.


''It would be $700 million to $800 million,'' said Amir Deen, a water consultant and former senior hydrologist with Sydney Catchment Authority.


''There would be water quality issues for Sydney'' during construction, he said.


Apart from the direct financial cost, building up the wall would massively expand Lake Burragorang, which would back up along about 118 kilometres of remote rivers behind the dam.


It would inundate about 7500 hectares of protected bushland and spill into three adjoining national parks.


''It's a wild, wild area that's beautifully rugged, with deep ravines, some sweeping bends with rock pebbles and glassy water,'' said Keith Muir, of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.


But, with the current dam, there remains a bigger danger of massive floods hitting thousands of homes downstream, said a former senior engineer at the dam, who declined to be named.


''It's got the potential for vast inflows,'' the engineer said. ''Keeping the dam partially lower would have a marginal effect on flooding. Those people sitting there are in danger as we speak,'' he said, noting the dam was full and more rain was on the way.