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Up and down Nitties still on top in PGA

ON TOP: James Nitties shares a four-way lead entering the third round of the New Zealand PGA. Picture: Getty ImagesJAMES Nitties was left tolamentwhat could have been despitesharing a four-way lead entering the third round of the New Zealand PGA Championships at theRemuera Golf Club in Auckland.
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The Charlestown professional followed his opening round 65 with a 68 on Friday to be at 11-under alongside Josh Geary (68, 65), Scott Arnold (68, 65) and Brett Rankin (66,67).

“I shot four-under par but it felt like even par,” Nitties said. “The par fives are playing really short andthere are a few birdies out there.”

Starting on the 10thhole,Nitties made the most of the par fives to pick up shots at the 16thand 18thholes andturn in 33.He opened hisback nine with the first of four birdies, but bogeys at the 3rdand 9thproved costly.

Nitties’frustration was compounded by the superb form of playing partner Geary, whose seven-under featured six birdies in eight holes on theirfront nine.

“Playing with Josh, he had seven putts for the first nine holes so he was holing everything and not so much for anyone else,”Nitties said.

Geary could not have been happier with his short game.

“I holed three bombs from 30 odd feet and a chip in too,” he said. “It was one of those days where the hole looked as big as a bucket and they kept going in.”

Aaron Townsend is three strokes back in a tie for 10that eight under. He backed up his opening67 with a 69 on Saturday in a round that was spoiled bya double bogey at the par-four sixth.

Jake Higginbottom is in a tie for 41stat three under after shooting even par on Friday.

Callan O’Reilly (72, 70) and Leigh McKechnie (73, 69) missed the three-under cut by a stroke.Jamie Hook (73, 75) finished well back at four over.

Negative gearing hurting National Party seats more

A REPORT published by the Australian Institute (April, 2015) shows National Party seats are worse off in terms of benefits to investors from negative gearing.
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The paper focused its attention on the geographic distribution of negative gearing by federal electorates.

The analysis shows that taxable income and the proportion of people undertaking negative gearing are correlated.

As the income increases so does the number of people negative gearing.

Taxable income and net rental loss are also correlated, as income rises the amount deducted because of negative gearing also rises.

The paper demonstrated that the benefit of negative gearing was concentrated on high income earners with 50 per cent of the benefit gong to the top 20 per cent of households by income, with middle income households only receiving about 40 per cent of the benefit.

Interesting also, when they looked at the spread by political party electorates, Liberal party seats on average were likely to get the largest benefit, secondly by Labor seats, but significantly behind are National party seats.

This is not surprising when you have a closer look at the average taxable income of the electorates, the Mallee unfortunately has the lowest taxable income in the country with the average income sitting on just $25,629.

The paper also looked into those electorates that benefit the least from negative gearing and the Mallee is placed in the bottom 20 of electorates with a net rental loss for investors of $5,712.

It was also interesting to note that National Party electorates are over represented in the bottom 20 with more than 50 per cent of National Party electorates in the bottom 20.

The largest beneficiaries of negative gearing are represented by government ministers, including the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and other senior ministers.

The findings of this report therefore support my earlier letter to the editor whereby I supported the Labor announcement on savings ($32 billion) that can be made through the introduction proposed negative gearing policy, which can then be used to offset Labors funding requirements for education and hospitals.

Lydia Senior,

ALP Federal Candidate Mallee

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Chicken manure spading study delves deep to target catchment area

SEEP TRIAL: Stuart Pope’s property was involved in a chicken manure spading trial targeting seep catchment areas.
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CHICKEN manure spading on Stuart Pope’s Karoonda property targeted non-wetting sand,a catchment area for seeps,and showed positive results.

Mr Pope firstnoticed seeps developing almost a decade ago and said they haddegradedarable cropping land.

“Our main issue has been deep, non-wetting sand.We’ve done a bit of clay spreading, delving and even tried growing millet one year on the non-wetting sand and haven’t had much success with anything,” he said.

The land for the trial was spaded with different rates of chicken manure and the subsequent barley yield, quality and germination exceeded expectations.

Trials consultant Chris McDonough said there was sparse germinationand roots struggled to establishdeep into the control areas.

“The control areas were reaping1-1.5 tonnes ahectare last year. Where we spaded withoutchicken manure was 2-2.5t/ha. Where we spaded with 5-6t/ha of chicken manure it went up to 3-3.5 t/ha. It was quite remarkable,” Mr McDonough said.

“Mallee sands are oftencompacted between 20 centimetresand 40cm so roots can’t break through them.We’re breaking that compaction and because chicken manure is very high in nitrogen, phosphorous, sulfur and trace elements you’re mixing nutritious organic matterthrough the top 40cm, and that ischanging the fertility of the soil.”

Mr McDonough said the moisture-holding capacity was much better in the spaded chicken manure soil than the control area, which means the sand is less likely to contribute to seep recharge.

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The five places that made me: Ray Chen, virtuoso violinist

Ray Chen: Discovered his affinity with violin aged 8. Photo: SuppliedJAPAN
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I was eight years old when I first realised I wanted to become a violinist for the rest of my life. I was invited to play at the opening ceremony of the 1998 Winter Olympics which were held in Nagano, Japan. It was everything a boy could dream of: an exciting new place to explore, new friends to meet, and amazing food to try. I’m still in touch with the people I met back then, and every year when I go back to perform we get together and catch up. Violin had been a fun hobby up until that point, but then this event made me realise that this little wooden instrument could give me amazing experiences. All I had to do was spend time with it every day.  UNITED STATES

The move from Australia to anywhere is usually a long one, both in distance and time. We are just so far from the rest of the world, that even with modern-day travel it still takes almost 24 hours to get from Europe or the US to Australia. My move to the United States at the age of 16 was the beginning of a new chapter of my life, one that would be filled with obstacles and challenges that were not always enjoyable, but moulded me into the person I am today. Not to mention a constant pressure to prove to everyone that I wouldn’t have to go back home with my tail between my legs. America is a place where people judge you not based on your age or experience, but rather your ability and talent. For me, this was a place that could make my dreams into a reality.  BELGIUM

A place that most people don’t give much thought to except when it comes to beer and chocolate, but in the world of classical music it is where the biggest international violin competition is held every four years. The Queen Elisabeth Violin Competition is the equivalent of the Olympics for violin. I spent a whole month at the competition, plus another month after, performing concert tours in the country, yet managed to learn zero French. This was the place that launched me into the international concert stage – the fast track so to speak, and it will always have a special place in my heart. THE CARIBBEAN

If there’s one thing I love more than travelling and performing, it is going on cruises. I absolutely love the ocean, and there’s no better way for me to relax than spending a week on a boat, waking up each morning in a different exotic place. They can be also such good value – sometimes in the off-peak season you can get a full week for only $600 a person, and that includes all non-alcoholic drinks and meals, room, and on-board entertainment and facilities. You couldn’t even get a hotel for that price.    VENEZUELA

Venezuela. The birthplace of the El Sistema music program which was conceived to keep kids off the streets and away from drugs and violence. It has grown now to more than 700,000 kids playing musical instruments and has spread across the world and inspired similar spin-off programs. I visited last October for the first time and it completely blew my mind to meet so many young people who loved classical music so much. It is their sanctuary, a place to get away from the daily troubles of life. Venezuela has many problems with their economy and general safety. Kidnappings happen daily. Yet among all these troubles something beautiful was created which inspired the rest of the world.

Ray Chen plays Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra  in Hamer Hall on March 10, 11 and 12 at 8pm. Tickets: (03) 9929 9600. See mso南京夜网419论坛.

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Deals: Bargains of the week

Stay and play golf at The Datai Langkawi. Photo: SuppliedYOU AND VAN GOGH
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The Peninsula Chicago Keys to the City – Van Gogh  Experience  is a chance to get private access to a special exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. This package gives up to 10 people entry to the museum prior to opening or after closing, a private guided tour of the Van Gogh’s Bedrooms exhibition, a curator-signed catalogue, two nights in a suite at the Peninsula Chicago, return transfers to the museum, special themed amenities, Wi-Fi, access to the Fitness Centre in The Peninsula Spa, and complimentary use of a chauffeur-driven Mini Cooper for a three-hour exploration of the city.

It costs from $3100, which includes $1000 for accommodation and $2100 a person for the Van Gogh Experience. Offer valid for sale and stays till May 8. See chicago.peninsula南京夜网..


Save 30 per cent with this golf package for a holiday at The Datai Langkawi in Malaysia.

The Datai Els Golf Package combines two-nights’ accommodation with golf at the Els Club Teluk Datai course, designed by Ernie Els. Accommodation is in a Canopy Deluxe room, and you get breakfast each day, return airport transfers and return transfers to the golf course, two rounds of golf at the Els Club Teluk Datai course, including a caddie and two lunches at the Els Club Teluk Datai, Wi-Fi, two pre-dinner drinks at the Lobby Lounge or Beach Club, two dinners at the resort restaurant of choice, a guided nature walk with the hotel’s resident naturalist, and 3pm check-out (subject to availability).

Available for travel April 1 – July 5 and September 1 – December 23.

The price is from $1462 for two nights a room for up to two people. Phone +60 4 9500 500. See thedatai南京夜网.


Save $1600 a couple on Uniworld’s India’s Golden Triangle & The Sacred Ganges river cruise when if you book and pay in full by June 30.

Visit Delhi and the tomb of Emperor Humayun, as well as the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. See Jaipur, the Taj Mahal and visit Mother Teresa’s home and tomb.

It includes a seven-night Ganges River Cruise in a riverview suite on board the all-suite Ganges Voyager II, five nights in Oberoi Hotels & Resorts properties, and specified meals and beverages.

Priced from $12,409 a person twin share, and the deal is for travel January 12 – March 13 and September 30 – December 9, 2017.

Phone 1300 780 231. See uniworld南京夜网.


Preferred Hotels & Resorts has some bed and breakfast offers going for Thailand’s annual Songkran celebrations. Taking place in 2016 from April 13, Songkran (also known as Thai New Year) is the largest water festival in the region – and one of the most spectacular.

The deal gives best available rates with breakfast for two people at properties such as The Siam, a beautiful art deco-inspired boutique luxury hotel, alongside the Chao Praya River. Rates from $573 a night.

Another is the Landmark Bangkok on Sukhumvit Road close to a Skytrain station. Rates from $167 a night.

See preferredhotels南京夜网.


Scandinavia specialist Bentours has waived the single supplement on the following Antarctica and the South Atlantic Islands Hurtigruten expeditions: the 19-night Antarctica and the South Atlantic Islands cruise departing October 28; the November 15 departure of the 13-night The Frozen land of the Penguins; and the May 22 departure of the 10-night All About Iceland: Land of Fire & Ice.

Bookings must be made by March 31 to receive the deal. Prices starting from $12,236 a single, representing a saving of $8564.

Phone 1800 221 712. See 梧桐夜网bentours南京夜网419论坛.


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Slow travel: It’s about the journey, not the destination

When we say “long haul” nowadays we’re talking about 24 hours flying time. Often we do it in a monstrous jet in which we barely feel any turbulence. But think about what that might have meant in the past.
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Over the last few years, besides gallivanting around the world in large aircraft, I’ve been writing a novel set in the 1920s and 1930s. That means I’ve had to do a significant amount of research about how people travelled in the early days of leisure transport and commercial aviation.

In the late 1930s, if you had the wherewithal to fly from Sydney to London, you may have done it on a luxury Empire Class flying boat, a journey which took eight days, with 31 stops for refuelling, including Brisbane, Darwin, Surabaya, Singapore, Rangoon, Karachi, Basra and Cairo. The plane lumbered along at 160 miles an hour.

The upside was that there were only 15 passengers, you could get up from your lounge chair and roam around (or smoke) at any time, and there was an observation deck. And imagine how exhilarating it would have been to have visited exotic Surabaya or Rangoon in such style.

For less well-healed mortals it took 40 days to take a steam ship from Australia via the Suez Canal to Europe and most passengers were not afforded the luxury of balconies or even the landscape windows we leisure cruisers demand today. Crowded shared cabins with barely a porthole were the norm in steerage.

In the novel I’m writing, I needed to send a character from New York to Hollywood in 1933. She boarded the 20th Century Limited at Grand Central Station then changed to the Super Chief in Chicago for the 58-hour trip to Los Angeles. Sharing a sleeping compartment with several other Hollywood hopefuls, she amused herself by playing gin rummy in the baggage car.

It’s not much quicker these days, and she would be happily occupied with games on her smartphone, although gin rummy sounds fun.

There are a number of opportunities to travel by train in the style of yesteryear, including the Belmond Hibernian, which launches journeys through Ireland in September. Such trains represent “slow” travel, where you can actually experience where you are going.

Yet 21st century commuter trains can be astonishingly fast, such as the Shanghai Transrapid, which runs between Beijing and Shanghai at a brisk 431km/h. It’s the world’s fastest commercial train, although the Japanese, not to be outdone, have created a prototype for a bullet train that reached 603km/h in trials. We’ll have to wait until 2027 though for the Tokyo-Nagoya service.

See: On board the world’s fastest passenger train

In our century, unless you’re on a round-the-world fare or taking a leisurely world cruise, most travellers wanting to get from point A to point B try to do it as quickly as possible. Fast trains, fast planes. Our anxiety to arrive has overtaken the pleasure of journeying.

When we travel these days it’s often hermetically sealed, with the blinds drawn, headphones on. It’s nice sometimes to get down and dirty.

Recently, in Myanmar, I took a pony trap ride from the bank of the Ayarwaddy River to Ava, the ancient Imperial capital of Burma. Rattling along rutted and dusty roads in the back of the old cart wasn’t exactly enjoyable (I thought my teeth would fly out of my head) but the slow pace of travel meant we could engage with the locals and observe details of daily life we’d miss if we’d gone by in a bus.

In Shanghai, I zoomed through the historic parts of the city in the sidecar of an old World War II-vintage BMW motorbike. At that level, you’re part of street life.

In Ho Chi Minh City, I took a ride through the streets at night on the back of a vintage Vespa. Saigon’s traffic is terrifying but going with the flow in such an intense way was invigorating.

See: How Ho Chi Minh City has changed

I dislike small planes, or thought I did, but taking an eight-passenger seaplane from Colombo to the tea plantations was mind-blowing, looping through the clouds and drifting over the mountains. It felt very much what it might have been like to travel in a biplane in the 1930s.

One could argue that the latest fad, hoverboards, get you down and dirty too. (Maybe a little too dirty if they explode.)

I’m all for modern technology, but sometimes being close enough to smell the daisies (or pig stys) is a trip all by itself.

See also: Why we feel the need to travel

See also: Obsessions: Places we feel compelled to visit

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How do I get an upgrade in my cruise cabin?

Cruisers who have demonstrated loyalty to the cruise line are more likely to receive favourable consideration. Photo: SuppliedJust as with airline upgrades, there is no sure-fire way to shoehorn yourself into a better cabin than the one you’ve paid for but there are strategies that can swing the odds in your favour.
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Cruisers who have demonstrated loyalty to the cruise line are more likely to receive favourable consideration if there are better cabins available.

During off-peak season, a cruise line might not drop its prices but it might have empty cabins in superior categories, in which case the upgrade might be a bargaining chip to secure your booking.

Travel agents who make a lot of bookings with a particular cruise line carry more weight than agents who only book the occasional cruise.

Passengers who book through the big spenders can benefit from their power to persuade.

There is nothing wrong with asking.

When you board, approach the purser’s office with your best happy face and put in your request.

Guarantee cabins are usually the lowest price, but they come with the guarantee that at the very least the passenger will be assigned the lowest cabin in that category, however in many cases their cabin will be better than what they’ve paid for.

Don’t set your heart on an upgrade.

Even if the upgrade fairy waves her magic wand in your direction, your new cabin might not be the luxury lotus land you’d dreamed of.

You might get an upgrade to a better class of cabin, but to an undesirable location within that class.

For example, close to a noisy catering area, or – heaven forbid – under the disco.

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Where to eat in the Barossa Valley, South Australia: Chef Ryan Edwards

Ryan Edwards likes going for bush walks in his spare time. Photo: SuppliedExecutive Chef Ryan Edwards grew up on a small mixed farm in the Barossa. He has a genuine connection to the land and a love of real food and food traditions. He worked in deluxe resorts in Far North Queensland and the Gold Coast before returning to the Barossa in 2004, eventually joining the team at Appellation at The Louise in 2008. Under his hand, the restaurant has received many accolades and is considered one of the best in Australia. See appellation南京夜网419论坛. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE TABLE IN THE BAROSSA VALLEY?
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The Barossa offering for dining is becoming a varied and ever-expanding one, however, as a chef and a keen Barossa Farmers Market attendee, there is no second for the market burger on a Saturday morning. Barossa Heritage Pork free range bacon, Waechter’s free range egg, caramelised onion, Al’s baby spinach, Eleni’s delicious bun and Farm Follies chutney is a glorious combination of local produce, and the sense of community at the shared tables. See barossafarmersmarket南京夜网419论坛. THE LOCAL FOOD DISCOVERY OF THE PAST YEAR?

My local food discovery of 2015 would have to have been picking muntries in the Adelaide Hills. A friend of mine, John from Cornucopia Olive Oil asked if I wanted to join him for the day in a hunt for the small native apple. It was a great experience and it went into making some of the best chutney and jam I have ever made. WHAT IS THE BAROSSA VALLEY’S BEST-KEPT FOOD SECRET?

There is a little old lady, but don’t let that fool you, who makes the best jams, jellies and preserves – possibly in the world. She is a CWA hero and has probably never lost at cooking in her life. She is so protective of her recipes that during the making of a documentary about her, she locked the cameras in a separate room during some of the processing. The evidence is there for all to taste at the market quite often, and her plum jam and mustard pickles are out of control. PLACE TO GO ON A DAY OFF?

Kaiserstuhl is a conservation park in the Barossa Ranges. It has panoramic views of the Barossa Valley and has two great short bush walks that are full of flora and fauna from this region. It’s a great spot to takes the kids for a picnic and the likelihood of seeing a kangaroo is pretty high. See environment.sa.gov419论坛. FAVOURITE INDULGENCE IN THE BAROSSA VALLEY?

We are fortunate to have many great cellar doors, and many different subregions and winemaking styles that it could be a nearly endless search for the best wines in the Barossa. Most of these places offer great food offerings for lunch. You could indulge for as long as your body can keep up. PLACE TO GO FOR A BIG NIGHT OUT?

Big arvo out is what I look for, a Sunday Funday with live music and great food at Gibson Wines is probably the most enjoyable way to spend a very rare Sunday off and best way to relax with family and drink some great wines. See gibsonwines南京夜网419论坛. BEST TIME TO VISIT, AND WHY, FOOD-WISE, IN THE BAROSSA VALLEY?

In mid-April every second year we have one of the best food and wine tourism events in Australia happening, with the Barossa Vintage Festival. With 95 events over five days, with everything from foot-stomping grapes to long lunches and serious wine education, it has something for everyone. It also draws some of South Australia’s best chefs, showcasing all of what this state has to offer. See barossavintagefestival南京夜网419论坛. WHAT SHOULD A VISITOR AVOID, FOOD-WISE, IN THE BAROSSA VALLEY?

Lukewarm pies from the petrol station – no matter how much you indulged the day before.

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Airline review: Niki economy

Niki Air. Photo: SuppliedTHE PLANE
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Airbus A320; Niki has 11 of these aircraft in its fleet. The Abu Dhabi-Vienna shuttle version has eight business and 138 economy class seats. THE ROUTE

Abu Dhabi to Vienna THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Flyers can earn topbonus miles when flying with Niki or Etihad Airways. These points can be redeemed on Niki flights and many Etihad Airways flights. CLASS

Economy. Seat 8A in a 3-3 layout. There are eight business class seats in a 2-2 configuration at the front. DURATION

Just over six hours. We leave and arrive on time.  FREQUENCY

Daily.  THE SEAT

A window seat towards the front of the cabin, the pitch is 30 inches (76 centimetres) and width is 18 inches (46 centimetres).  BAGGAGE

Economy passengers can check in one piece of luggage up to 23 kilograms and carry on a cabin bag weighing up to eight kilograms. ENTERTAINMENT

No in-seat systems. Business class passengers are given iPads with an inflight program. Movies are shown on shared screens on longer flights. Given the timing on the flight most people choose to eat first and sleep. A standout entertainment feature is the Wi-Fi access – passengers can pay for anywhere from 30 minutes access  for the duration of the flight with pricing ranging from  $7.80 to $30. COMFORT

Pillows, blankets and amenity kits are provided free of charge for all passengers. The pillows are nice and soft, the blanket keeps me reasonably warm, and the amenity kit has the usual suspects – a toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs, a sleeping mask and socks. Niki is classed as a low-cost airline, however the comfort trimmings are on par with full-service carriers.  SERVICE

All staff members on board were hospitable, quick to attend to passenger needs and service always came with a smile. FOOD

The halal-certified menu is changed four times a year and breakfast choices comprise of a spinach omelette with a beef sausage, hash brown and beans or a baked egg atop a chickpea, tomato, onion and eggplant concoction. I choose the baked egg and enjoy the medley of flavours. The fruit salad and yoghurt with mango compote completes the meal and I slept afterwards. About an hour before landing chocolate biscuits are offered. Although I don’t recall eating them, the wrapper by my headphones tells me I enjoyed them, too. ONE MORE THING

Niki launched the direct route between Abu Dhabi and Vienna in November 2014, offering those travelling between the UAE and Austria a non-stop option. For Australians travelling to and from Austria the Etihad Airways/Niki route is a dream. With just one stop in Abu Dhabi, it’s one of the quickest and most convenient ways of travelling to Austria.  THE VERDICT

Having flown with quite a few low-cost carriers, Niki is by far one of the best. The staff ensure that passengers are happy, the seats are reasonably comfortable and, given the timing of the flight, (the plane left Abu Dhabi at 2.45am), I didn’t miss the entertainment system.

Reviewed by Tatyana Leonov, who flew courtesy of Scenic Tours. 

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Aboriginal elder Pat Dodson: portrait of the senator as a young man

Professor Patrick Dodson has spent much of his life working for a better deal for Australia’s First People. Photo: Damian Kelly Pat Dodson is known as the Father of Reconciliation. Photo: Peter Eve / Yothu Yindi Foundation
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Pat Dodson will become Labor’s Senate candidate for Western Australia. Photo: Andrew Meares

Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation Pat Dodson lights a candle with former prime minster Howard at a luncheon in the Great Hall of Parliament House to mark the start of Reconciliation week. Photo: Mike Bowers

Paddy Dodson might have been just another scared kid on his first night at boarding school … if he hadn’t been black.

He drew the bedsheet up to his nose and pulled his pillow over his head. All the other kids, 200 of them crowded into one huge dormitory, wanted to get a look at him.

All of Australia has since got a look at Patrick Dodson, the bloke with the waist-length beard and the hat with its band of black, yellow and red, who has spent much of his life working for a better deal for Australia’s First People.

We’re about to see more of him, for he’s Labor’s new senator for Western Australia. It’s a bit of a surprise to those who’ve known him for awhile.

“Politicians tend to be a bit tentative,” he told me a few years ago during a long yarning session. “They see life in terms of three-year brackets, not in terms of history.”

Paddy Dodson, however, has always been capable of surprising, and at 68, he might be able to teach politicians a bit about seeing things in longer time frames.

Those curious boarding-school kids way back in the 1960s learned pretty quickly that the first Aboriginal student at their school was much more than they imagined.

He didn’t know what a bread plate was, or a butter knife, but life had already thrown bigger and harder lessons at him. Born in Broome to an Irish-Australian father, Snowy Dodson, and an Indigenous mother, Patricia, his family had fled across state borders to Katherine, in the Northern Territory, when Pat was a two-year-old baby.

The hounding laws of Western Australia had become too much. Even love was a crime.

Snowy had been jailed for 18 months, years before, for “cohabiting with a native woman”, Pat’s mother. Pat had to grow up fast. Aged 13, he and his brothers and sisters – seven of them altogether – were orphaned.

Their father died first, and then their mother, three months later. Pat and his brother Mick, who was aged 10, were in danger of becoming “stolen children”.

Their aunt and uncle came and collected the children and took them to Darwin on the back of their Chevy truck.

“The protector of native affairs in the Northern Territory, a fella called Harry Giese, was poised to send me to one of the Catholic Missions,” Pat told me.

“Unfortunately the church, as often happens, couldn’t find the necessary resource to send me over the Strait (from Darwin to the Garden Point Mission on Melville Island) as the boat that was supposed to take me had sunk.”

The Dodson children’s aunt and uncle, both of whom knew firsthand about life on missions, battled the authorities in and out of court to keep the little family out of the clutches of authority.

Pat and Mick, however, and a brother and sister, Patricia and Jacko, were declared “wards of the state”, but in the care of family, though they were split up.

Eventually, a couple of priests from the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart stepped in and decided to help the orphaned Pat and Mick to get as far away from the Northern Territory as possible.

They arranged scholarships for Pat (and later Mick) to fly south, to Hamilton in far-west Victoria, to board at Monivae College, run by the MSCs.

And so, in the early 1960s, an Aboriginal boy found himself in an alien world, trying to hide in his bed down the end of a dormitory as 200 boys jockeyed to get a look at the most exotic student they could imagine.

Paddy, as he quickly became known, didn’t hide away long. He emerged as a hard-studying and quietly powerful character, aware of high expectations thrust upon him at a time when no one knew anything about Indigenous affairs.

“There was always the search as to who was going to be the ‘first’ of this and the ‘first’ of that as if that was going to be the only ever achievement in this country,” he remembered.

He won the diligence prize five out of the six years he was at Monivae, became a middle-school prefect before Australia had even held a referendum concerning recognition of Indigenous Australians and formed tight friendships that endured.

By the time I arrived as a student at Monivae in 1967, Pat Dodson was captain of the school, captain of the all-but unbeatable First XVII and Adjutant of the Cadet Corps. He was an undisputed leader.

Pat and Mick (another leader, who became vice-captain and a House Captain) had no money. It didn’t matter. A fellow named Bill Walsh – the father of Phil Walsh, who became coach of the Adelaide Football Club and who was killed in tragic circumstances last year – ran Thompson’s Department Store in Hamilton.

He simply provided the Dodson boys with uniforms, footy boots, casual outfits and sports gear. Other parents took the boys to their farms for holidays. Everyone knew the Dodson boys would make a name for themselves. But we couldn’t have guessed that Pat would become known as the Father of Reconciliation and win the Sydney Peace Prize, or that Mick would become Australian of the Year, and much, much else.

From little things….

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Tasmania battles to keep lights on with cloud-seeding and diesel generators

A dam bust? Gordon Dam on Lake Gordon in Tasmania’s south-west in better times. Photo: Peter Mathew With Basslink broken, Loy Yang brown coal power station is no longer exporting electricity to Tasmania. Photo: Phil Carrick
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Temco has agreed to limit power use.

What if an entire state in one of the world’s wealthiest countries was to run out of electricity?

It’s a question Tasmanians have been pondering – initially with humour, but increasingly with concern – since late last year.

On December 20, Basslink – the $800 million, 290-kilometre submarine cable connecting Tasmania with Victoria and in recent times provided up to 40 per cent of its electricity – stopped working. Nobody knows why.

The failure came just as the island was more reliant on Basslink than ever. Its power plants are overwhelmingly hydro-electric, and 2015 was its driest spring on record. The water flowing into dams was less than half the amount in any year for at least three decades.

By December, storages were at just 24.6 per cent. No worries, the authorities said; Basslink said the cable would be fixed by February, then March. But three months on, that re-connection date has vanished from the schedule. The damage to the cable is internal and proving hard to locate. Crisis without parallel

There is no new estimate of when it will be repaired. Meanwhile, Tasmania’s damstorages continue to dwindle, down to 16.1 per cent.

“This is very unusual. I don’t think there has been a crisis like it,” says Hugh Saddler, principal energy consultant with Pitt & Sherry. “The last time I can recall something like this was in NSW in 1983, when there was a problem with the Liddell [black coal] power station, but that was resolved fairly quickly. This is proving quite different.”

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and the Tasmanian Liberal government and state-owned power generator Hydro Tasmania have chased solutions to keep the lights on, some more creative than others.

At the obvious end: mothballed gas turbines in the Tamar Valley – shut down since mid-2014 after the soaring price of gas in export markets made them unviable, and partially put up for sale – are back operating at a capacity of nearly 300 megawatts.

As a stopgap, the state is also bringing in more than 20 portable diesel generators, at a cost of $44 million to set up and an estimated $20 million a month to run. Industry go slow

While moving to shore up supply, the government has also tackled demand. Just five industrial sites consume about 60 per cent of the state’s electricity. Three – Rio Tinto’s Bell Bay Aluminium, manganese alloy plant TEMCO and paper manufacturer Norske Skog – have agreed to cut use.

Less conventionally, it was announced this week the state would ramp up a cloud-seeding campaign – a controversial rain-milking technique that involves dropping silver iodide particles from a plane. This technique will kick into action a month earlier than usual at a cost of $100,000. No estimate was available of how much extra rain this might produce.

From even further left field, it was revealed Hydro Tasmania had considered draining once pristine Lake Pedder – flooded in 1972 in the face of a concerted environmental campaign, and still at near capacity while other storage sites hit record lows – to a level currently forbidden under state law.

This suggestion won quick backing from the Greens and conservation groups, which have campaigned for the lake to be restored to its natural state. Energy security promised but uncertain

Tasmanian Energy Minister Matthew Groom said while he could not it rule out, draining Lake Pedder was not part of current plans. In an opinion piece for News Corp on Tuesday, he said other steps already being taken would “substantially exceed” what the cable would have provided.

“The plan is designed to maintain Tasmania’s energy security without Basslink in operation, even with continued low rainfall and another unprecedented adverse event occurring,” he said.

Political critics said the state government’s approach assumed a wet winter and that the cable would be fixed before spring, and that it had ignored opportunities to develop renewable energy projects.

Melbourne Energy Institute director Professor Mike Sandiford does not criticise the government’s response, but says there is no guarantee winter will provide a fix.

“The reservoirs will almost certainly get down to 13 per cent, and when the rain comes the land will be very dry, so there will be little run off initially. There will need to be really good rains to recover that storage,” he says.

He says Tasmania has missed opportunities to build more wind farms, which are a good back-up for hydro generation. Northern Tasmania has a better wind resource than South Australia and Victoria, which have invested more heavily. Carbon cash-in hurts

That the steps the government has taken are required is a result not only of the short-term crisis but a decision taken by Hydro Tasmania nearly four years ago, when the carbon price was in force.

The scheme introduced under then prime minister Julia Gillard increased the cost of energy from burning fossil fuels, but not emissions-free hydro power. Analysts say that faced with a growing (and ultimately vindicated) expectation that the scheme may not survive under an Abbott government, Hydro Tasmania made a calculated decision to increase output – and run down water storages – to sell as much electricity as possible at the higher rate.

As Saddler puts it: “They could bid in [to the national market] whenever they wanted just under the cost of fossil fuels, and it would be the cheapest electricity available. It was very profitable.”

Saddler is not critical of this decision. Modelling was undertaken to ensure dams would remain at an operational level despite the increased generation. But the models used could not factor in the Basslink outage.

“I don’t think this situation reflects badly on Hydro,” Saddler says, “though you could say they didn’t properly take into account the impact of climate change.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Slater and Gordon: What happens when the ambulance chasers crash

Slater & Gordon chief Andrew Grech was the architect of the public listing. Photo: Arsineh Houspian Slater and Gordon faces an uncertain future. Photo: Lee Besford
Nanjing Night Net

Maurice Blackburn’s Andrew Watson is leading a class action against Slater & Gordon. Photo: Supplied.

Whiplash often follows a car accident after the passengers’ bodies are thrown forwards and backwards. With no physical symptoms, it can be hard to prove or disprove.

Drivers in the United Kingdom seem to suffer it more than others, with whiplash making up about 70 per cent of all post-accident claims from 2008 to 2013.

Suspecting this unusually high rate of whiplash had more to do with exaggerated claims than weak neck muscles, the British government announced last year that people could no longer get cash compensation for minor whiplash claims. Further, it was increasing the upper limit in the small claims court to £5000 ($9675), removing the need for lawyers.

And with that, the British government totally smashed the value of a conglomerate business previously called Quindell, which Melbourne-based law firm Slater & Gordon had just bought for a whopping $1.2 billion.

Now it’s Slater & Gordon shareholders who are suffering whiplash.

Shares that were trading at $7.85 less than a year ago closed at 26 cents on Wednesday before recovering to 38 cents by Friday early afternoon. That means the market value of Slater & Gordon has dropped from $2.7 billion to $135.7 million. Disaster was months in the making

But this car crash started well before Monday. It started in early 2015 when Slater & Gordon first announced it was in talks to buy sections of Quindell as part of a grand plan to become the biggest personal injury law group in the UK. As the first law firm in the world to list on a sharemarket, Slater & Gordon had a history of growth through acquisitions.

It floated at $1 a share and enjoyed eight years of full-speed growth to reach a peak of $7.85 a share on April 2, 2015.

But then the Quindell acquisition started pushing the share price into a downhill spiral.

First, analysts started questioning the underlying value of Quindell.

This scepticism was backed up in June, one month after the transaction was completed, when it emerged that both Slater & Gordon and Quindell were being checked by their respective financial regulators. Slater & Gordon’s shares went off a cliff – dropping from $6.11 to $3.78 in six days.

In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority was investigating public statements Quindell had made about its accounts in 2013 and 2014, which was followed with reviews by the Financial Reporting Council and a criminal investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

Meanwhile in Australia, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission was going through Slater & Gordon’s audited accounts. It has completed that inquiry without any further action following changes in accounting methods.

Shares were also dragged down by comments from hedge funds – which stood to make a profit from falling share prices – that more bad news was coming. In particular, Sydney-based VGI Partners warned future revenue had been overstated. This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Dearth of Bellevue Hill homes for sale driving prices ever higher

This beautiful home at 25 Suttie Road, Bellevue Hill, is deceptively spacious. A manicured garden, cabana and swimming pool create a magnificent outdoor entertaining space at 39 Balfour Road, Bellevue Hill. Photo: Supplied
Nanjing Night Net

Huge bifold doors are a feature of 53 Salisbury Road, Bellevue Hill. Photo: Supplied

While some trophy homes languish on the open market for years, others find favour rather more quickly, helping to spice up the market around them. It took only three months to find a buyer for Bellevue Hill’s most expensive home, Leura, which sold through Ray White Double Bay three months ago for more than $30 million.

The Federation Queen Anne-style property on a 4260-square-metre block in Victoria Road offered eight bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a ballroom, a tennis court and a swimming pool.

A month later, in the same street, Yoorami found a buyer after two years on the market. The grand 1920s home on 2903 square metres sold for $15.25 million, also through Ray White Double Bay.

In the days leading up to Christmas, there were about a dozen sales of between $3.5 million and $10 million, according to Domain Group data, pushing the median house price up to $4.05 million, a bullish rise of nearly 17 per cent in the past year.

Ballard Property agent James Ball says stock levels of big family homes are down, which is contributing to this price rise.

He says there were 25 groups through the first open of 25 Suttie Road, big numbers for a home in the $7 million-plus price range.

“We’ve got buyers out there at the moment and we just don’t have the supply to help them.”

For LJ Hooker Double Bay agent Bill Malouf, the lack of listings bodes well for the year ahead.

“I’m very happy that the market hasn’t been flooded with stock,” he says. “It’s a good thing because clearance rates are moving along nicely and I think the first half of this year will prove to be stronger than the second half of last year.”

While many of the house hunters are locals looking to upgrade, Ball says he is also fielding inquiries  from expatriates looking to secure an eastern suburbs home while the dollar is favourably low.

1. 25 Suttie Road Guide: $7.5m – $8m 6 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 4 car spaces Built 1990s; renovated 2002 Land 904 square metres Inspect Sat, noon-12.45pm; Thu, 5.45pm-6.30pm Agent Ballard Property, 0410 740 349 Auction March 15 Last traded for $3,175,000 in 2001

Tucked off the road on a private battleaxe block, this deceptively spacious home spans four levels, with room for a growing family. The garden is a highlight, with a vine-covered pergola, tightly clipped hedges and level lawn surrounding a pool that captures plenty of northern sun.

The main living spaces are on the first floor and open on to a wrap-around terrace. The lounge room boasts a huge open fireplace, a tiled floor and lots of windows taking in the leafy outlook. A separate, eat-in kitchen has an island with breakfast bar seating, integrated wall ovens, a Miele dishwasher and a gas cooktop. There is a large, adjoining butler’s pantry, which leads to a storeroom, cellar and powder room.

You’ll find a second living room and three bedrooms on the second floor, including the master suite with a walk-in wardrobe, a limestone en suite and access to a wrap-around balcony. There are a further two bedrooms on the third floor.

A media room, car parking and storage facilities are located on the ground floor. Additional features include ducted airconditioning, an integrated sound system and security intercom.

Close to Lough Playing Fields, the home is also within easy reach of schools, Cooper Park, Bondi Junction and the Double Bay shopping village.

Room for improvement: Open up and extend the living spaces on the first floor.

2. 39 Balfour Road Guide: $5.6m – $6m 6 bed 4 bath 3 car Built 1922; renovated 1997 Land 689 square metres Inspect Sat and Thu, 11am-11.45am Agent LJ Hooker Double Bay, 0411 428 354 For sale by expressions of interest Last traded price unknown

You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to entertaining guests in this beautifully updated character home, positioned just around the corner from the Plumer Road village shops and a block from the Woollahra Golf Club. There are three separate living areas on the ground floor: a formal dining room, a formal living room and a big bright family room at the back of the house.

This room opens to a manicured, level garden with lush lawn, a glass-framed pool and a substantial cabana with kitchenette and gas fireplace.

The bedrooms are on the upper level, each with built-in storage and the master with a small west-facing balcony, a walk-in wardrobe and an en suite with twin vanity. Two of the remaining bedrooms and a study open on to balconies on the eastern side of the house.

There are some well-preserved period features, including leadlight windows, polished timber floors and window seats, plus some stylish new additions, like the plantation shutters and custom cabinetry.

Room for improvement: Connect the plumbing to heat the pool.

3. 53 Salisbury Road Guide: $5.2 million 5 bed 4 bath 2 car Built 1950s; renovated 2008 Land 743 square metres Inspect Sat and Thu, 1.45pm-2.25pm Agent Ray White Double Bay, 0424 532 451 Auction March 17 Last traded for $1,665,000 in 1999

Interior design company Beautiful Spaces has lived up to its name at this picture-perfect home in tree-lined Salisbury Road. Every room includes a garden or water feature and the clever use of mirrors means you’re never entirely sure whether you’re inside or out.

There are two key living areas separated by a bright, open-plan kitchen. At the front of the home, a lounge room with pitched ceiling overlooks a mass of greenery to the property’s east. An adjoining dining zone has a touch of whimsy with a pocket garden behind bifold doors. The kitchen itself features an island bench topped with stone and offering breakfast bar seating, integrated gas appliances and soft-close drawers. The northern and western walls of the family room open completely on to a partly covered courtyard, feature pond and delightful garden, with a show-stopping pool visible through a vertical glass panel. The poolside cabana has a built-in barbecue and wine fridge.

The gardens are fully irrigated and there is an outdoor sound system and CCTV.

Room for improvement: Consider installing some built-in cabinetry in the lounge room.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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