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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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Booze bracelets effective at keeping repeat drink-drivers sober, advocates say

Serial drink-drivers could be fitted with alcohol-monitoring bracelets. Photo: Jerry GaleaAlcohol-monitoring ankle bracelets for drink-drivers and domestic violence abusers are being considered by police and substance-abuse experts as part of a scheme that would force repeat offenders to stay sober.
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Supporters say abstinence orders for offenders with serial alcohol-related convictions would improve public health and safety and reduce crime, particularly among young men whose drinking poses a risk to the community.

Courts would require those with serial convictions to give up drinking for up to six months and wear ankle bracelets that provide round-the-clock monitoring of blood-alcohol levels.

The “sobriety tags” return readings every 30 minutes through the wearer’s sweat, with results being sent to a judge or parole officer. Another option under consideration is a breathalysing scheme, in which offenders make twice-daily visits to a police station or testing centre. If they fail a test they are jailed for 24 to 48 hours, with prison terms escalating for repeated failures.

The 24/7 Sobriety Program has been successfully adopted in some US states and will next month be rolled out across London, after a pilot scheme found the ankle bracelets had a 92 per cent compliance rate.

Both the bracelets and the breathalysing program have been shown to markedly reduce drink-driving offences, car crashes, family violence incidents and premature deaths.

“Any program that has results like this is worth looking at. When you’re using a drug that kills 5500 people a year we have to try some different ways of reducing the deaths and the hospitalisations,” John Rogerson, chief executive of the Australian Drug Foundation, said.

“It’s a mammoth cost to our community, around $17 billion a year. The people they have tested this program with are people with really high-risk drinking who have previously struggled to have any traction in turning that around so there is every economic and health reason to pilot the program.”

At a drug reform forum in Melbourne on Tuesday, senior police officials and substance-abuse experts heard about the sobriety program in a presentation by Beau Kilmer, co-director of California’s RAND Drug Policy Research Centre.

Steve Fontana, Assistant Commissioner of Victoria Police, attended the forum and told Fairfax Media he believed the scheme had merit and he was keen to learn more.

Stefan Gruenert, chief executive of alcohol and drug treatment centre Odyssey House Victoria, also backed the program.

Professor Kilmer was visiting Australia for a national drug reform summit at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday. He has evaluated both the alcohol bracelets and the breathalysing program in South Dakota in the US Midwest and said they had significant public health benefits.

“In counties where these programs were adopted you saw a 12 per cent reduction in the total number of drunk driver arrests and a 9 per cent reduction in domestic violence arrests. It was also associated with a 4 per cent reduction in mortality across the community.”

Professor Kilmer said there were initial concerns the program would lead to jails becoming overcrowded but it had the opposite effect.

“The program is really focused on providing swift and certain but very fair sanctions and it’s holding people accountable,” he said.

“For the people in this program, their drinking has led them to engage in behaviours where they have repeatedly threatened public health and safety and in some ways it forces people to reduce their consumption.”

Britain’s Justice Secretary Michael Gove last month announced the government would help fund the “sobriety tag” program across London, saying it would cut crime and protect the public.

Victoria Police spokeswoman Senior Sergeant Sharon Darcy said the program was being discussed in the Royal Commission into Family Violence and it was an option police command was considering.

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Matildas on brink of Rio qualification, boost for Australian women’s game

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If he carries on like this, Matildas coach Alen Stajcic will soon be able to rival Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou for popularity.

The 42-year-old has guided the Matildas to a perfect three wins out of three matches in their opening games in the Asian qualifying tournament for the Rio Olympics, and Australia, following its 2-0 win over South Korea in the game on Friday night, is now in the box seat to take one of the two positions available for Asian nations.

With two matches to go Australia is almost there, with nine points and a massive goal difference of plus 13.

But arguably the two toughest tests, against North Korea and China, still loom on Sunday and Tuesday.

Avoid defeat in just one of those two matches and the Australians can start packing their bags for Brazil.

With each nation now having played three games Australia cannot be caught by the disappointing hosts, Japan, nor South Korea or strugglers Vietnam.

Japan, with just a solitary point from a draw with South Korea, has been a huge failure in front of its own fans. The team that last year reached the final of the Women’s World Cup cannot now hope to qualify for Brazil.

The Matildas could still slip up, but they would have to be either very unlucky or negligent to do so.

If they lose both their games they would finish on nine points.

China would, if they defeat the South Koreans on Monday  and the Matildas in the final fixture, end up with 13.

North Korea needs to beat both the Matildas on Monday and then hosts Japan on Wednesday to get 11 points.

If that scenario played out Australia would finish only third.

Simply avoiding defeat against the North Koreans in the penultimate fixture would put Stajcic’s team through: that would give them 10 points, and then the only nation that could equal or better that would be China.

Getting to this point is a major feather in the players’ cap, and a huge boost for Stajcic.

The New South Welshman was a player in the NSW Premier League and an Australian school International before injury cut short his career early.

He is the only senior Australian coach to have guided an Australian team to a knockout phase win in the World Cup, having taken the Matildas to the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup last year.

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A-League: Kevin Muscat blasts Arnold, FFA disciplinary process ahead of ‘massive game’

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Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat has blamed Sydney coach Graham Arnold for getting his star winger Kosta Barbarouses banned for two matches and has slammed the Match Review Panel after the disciplinary body outed the Kiwi wide-man following the ill-tempered A-League clash between Sydney and Victory last weekend.

Barbarouses went in heavily on Sydney midfielder Milos Ninkovic during the first half of a scrappy, physical encounter, but match referee Kris Griffiths Jones took no action at the time.

Afterwards Muscat said the referee had simply warned Barbarouses to be more careful with future tackles.

But Arnold took a different view, saying Barbarouses should have been shown a straight red card.

The MRP overruled the referee and looked at the case early in the week, cited Barbarouses, then handed down the suspension.

Muscat and his Victory players were in Osaka, Japan, for an Asian Champions League game at the time, but the coach was livid in Melbourne on Saturday morning ahead of what he described as a “massive” game for Victory away to Central Coast on Sunday afternoon.

“Roll out the Benny Hill music,” Muscat said, not trying to hide his anger.

“Staggering [decision)] … in the end we decided not to appeal simply because I don’t think there’s any point, which is sad.

“I think that Kosta has come under a little bit of a question mark here. His integrity has been questioned. The referee spoke to him, he’s seen the tackle and [told him] to be careful of future tackles.

“Now we have the situation where I assume that the MRP can act because Kris [Griffiths-Jones, the referee] says he doesn’t see the incident.

“We have sent footage that [Griffiths-Jones] was seven yards away. The fourth official was on a different angle, an opposite angle 25 yards away.

“If no one has seen the incident, we have got to question where they are looking. “

This was one of a series of contentious decisions that had gone against Victory this season, Muscat said.

“We’re expected to accept the rub of the green when the ball goes over the line and no one sees [Gui Finkler’s ghost goal against Melbourne City], we’re expected to get the rub of the green when, in hindsight, we get a note saying that Fahid was sent off incorrectly [when Ben Khalfallah was controversially dismissed against Perth Glory], we’re expected to accept the rub of the green when [City goalkeeper Thomas] Sorensen said he should’ve been sent off for a handball, and on this occasion when it’s gone against us.

“The one thing that’s disappointing in all of this is that Kosta’s spoken the truth and his character’s been brought into question, which is disappointing.”

Muscat had plenty of criticism for his former Socceroo teammate, too, saying his words created the climate for the MRP to take action.

“No doubt in my mind it did affect it. What I’d say to them is that [Arnold] wasn’t questioning any Match Review Panel when a goalkeeper lost eight teeth [when Newcastle’s Mark Birighitti was badly injured in a challenge by Sydney striker Shane Smeltz] and nothing was done by the MRP in that instance, so we assume the referee’s seen it and thought it was okay.

“I didn’t see Arnie questioning [Sydney goalkeeper Vedran] Janjetovic coming out of his box and pushing [Brisbane captain] Matt McKay behind play. All of a sudden, Arnie’s got an opinion and it seemed to work this time.”

Barbarouses will miss the Mariners game and next week’s clash with Brisbane Roar. Oliver Bozanic and Nick Ansell will also be absent after their exertions in Japan midweek.

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Australia hoping to see off England for second time on home turf

Australia will play England more than 13 years after the two nations last clashed in London. Photo: Wolter Peeters Follow the Age Sport on Twitter
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Can Australia make it two out of two when they take on England at the end of May in a game that will be one of three matches Roy Hodgson’s side will play as a warm-up for the European Championships.

Confirmation of the match that has been talked about for weeks came late on Friday night.

Australia will play England at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, more than 13 years after the two nations clashed at West Ham’s Boleyn Ground in London.

That time, Australia stunned Sven Goran Eriksson’s England by winning 3-1 in a game in which current England skipper Wayne Rooney made his senior debut. At 17 years and 111 days, the Manchester United star became the youngest senior England international in that game.

It will be a busy May and June for the Socceroos: after they return from the UK, they play two games against Greece, in Melbourne and Sydney, the following week.

Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop said the fixture represented a wonderful opportunity for all sports fans to get behind the national team.

“The Socceroos is a team that unites the nation and this game will excite not just football fans but sports fans in general,” he said.

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou is hoping his side can emulate the achievements of Frank Farina’s squad in 2003.

“We have stated that we want to continue progressing as a football nation so we can challenge the best teams in the world and England was strong in qualifying for the Euros,” Postecoglou said. “We will take the game to them so we have a guide as to how we are progressing.

“Australia against England is a massive part of the Australian sporting culture and it will be a fantastic opportunity for our players to experience that rivalry.

“The clash with England, along with the two Greece games in Australia, gives us some great matches as we look ahead to the next round of World Cup qualifying.”

The match will be the seventh clash between the two nations since Australia first played England in 1980 when the Socceroos won one match, drew two and lost three.

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Brumbies ride scrum dominance as Blake Enever set for stint on sideline

Blake Enever and Dave Dennis compete for the ball in the Brumbies-Waratahs match on Friday night. Enever injured his shoulder in the second half. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen The Brumbies won the battle of the scrum, earning a penalty try in the second half. Photo: Jay Cronan
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ACT Brumbies flanker Scott Fardy has backed Blake Enever to turn his shoulder injury into motivation to spark the team in the second half of the season after the lock became the first casualty of the season.

Enever had a scan on the SC joint in his shoulder on Saturday morning following a brutal contest against the NSW Waratahs on Friday night.

It is expected Enever will be sidelined for an extended period but the club is waiting for results before making a call on how long he will be out of action.

It was a devastating blow for Enever after coach Stephen Larkham injected him into the starting side in a second-row rotation with Rory Arnold.

“You can take the injury two ways. You can look at it as an opportunity to get your body in peak condition and look for the second half of the Super Rugby season and see what you can do there,” Fardy said.

“Blake’s a positive guy and very popular in the group, we’ll get around him in that way. But he knows himself he can build something and we’ll need him in the back end of the season.”

The Brumbies escaped the 32-15 win at Canberra Stadium relatively unscathed, with Enever the major worry and bumps and bruises to several players.

Playmaker Matt Toomua was left bloodied and with a broken nose after he was punched by hooker Tolu Latu. Latu has been cited and faces a judiciary hearing this week.

Brumbies outside centre Tevita Kuridrani was cited for a high tackle on Kurtley Beale, but escaped with a warning from the citing commissioner.

The Waratahs limped back to Sydney, with Bryce Hegarty suffering a suspected ACL injury, Rob Horne battling a knee complaint and Tatafu Polota-Nau fracturing his wrist.

Injuries aside, the Brumbies’ scrum appears to be going to a new level this year as they build formidable front-row depth.

Ben Alexander and Scott Sio were strong to start the game, and replacements Allan Alaalatoa and Les Leuluaialii-Makin marched over the top of the Waratahs pack in the second half.

The Brumbies won a penalty try from a scrum and trampled over the NSW forwards to push them back 15 metres at one set piece in the second half.

“Any time you get a good result out of your scrum as a tight forward, it’s very pleasing,” said Brumbies co-captain Stephen Moore.

“The guys that came on really lifted us again and that’s been the case for a while. The depth in the front-row has been strong and anytime it works you’re happy, but it’s a week to week proposition.”

Moore conceded the lineout was a bit sloppy, while Fardy attributed some disjointed lineouts to the noise of the crowd.

More than 20,000 fans packed into Canberra Stadium for the biggest crowd in almost a decade, with the club also donating $20,000 to the Domestic Violence Crisis Service as a result.

“We couldn’t hear much out there, which was great. The transfer of call and things like that are details we can fix up,” Fardy said.

“But when the crowd were as loud as they were, it was hard to hear yourself think. [The lineout] should be fine going forward. Hopefully we can get even more people out there when we’re back in three weeks.”

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Brumbies attack set for Mauritius test as Joseph Tomane finds jet shoes for Super Rugby

The Brumbies celebrate Joseph Tomane’s try against the NSW Waratahs. Photo: Alex EllinghausenThe ACT Brumbies will get a chance to test their new attacking game plan at a world club 10s tournament in Mauritius as they take on some of the biggest teams in international rugby.
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The Brumbies will play against French powerhouses Toulon and Stade Francais at the tournament in June, setting the stage for potential match-ups against former Brumby Matt Giteau and Quade Cooper.

But winger Joseph Tomane’s focus is on Super Rugby success, vowing to make the most of any opportunity that comes his way as the Brumbies adapt their refreshed free-flowing attack.

The Brumbies are unbeaten after the first two games of the Super Rugby season, running in 11 tries to stake their claim to be a title contender.

The 32-15 win against the NSW Waratahs on Friday night blew out at the end, but the match was a dog fight with minimal attacking opportunities.

Tomane scored a crucial second-half try to give the Brumbies the edge and the Wallabies winger has been menacing in what looms as his last season in Australia.

The NRL convert is poised to move to Europe at the end of the year, but he has shown he’ll leave nothing in the tank in the pursuit of tries and a championship.

Tomane has made five line breaks, beaten seven defenders and is back to his power running best.

“That part of my game has always been there, now I’ve just got the opportunity to I guess do that,” Tomane said.

“We’re playing a pretty expansive sort of game. What I’ve struggled with in the past is making the most of all the opportunities I got to carry the ball so right now that’s all I’m focused on.

“I want to do everything I can to make something happen when I get my hands on the ball.”

The Brumbies had to grind their way to a win against the Waratahs rather than trying to play their razzle-dazzle style.

However, their willingness to take risks was evident right until the end when they forced a loose-ball turnover and threw some offloads for Nigel Ah Wong to score the final try of the night.

The Brumbies will join the Durban Sharks, Toulon and Stade Francais for the invitational 10s tournament on June 18-19.

The Brumbies lost the final at the Singapore 10s two years ago when the Auckland Blues scored a try after the buzzer.

The eight-team tournament will be split into two pools but it is unknown whether Toulon will roll out their superstar roster which boasts Giteau, Cooper, James O’Connor, Drew Mitchell and former All Black Ma’a Nonu.

The Brumbies will be missing the bulk of their roster, with the club’s star players to be a part of the Wallabies’ Test series against England at the same time.

“We’ve been lucky enough to be invited to the 10s again,” said coach Stephen Larkham on ABC Grandstand.

“That’s the beauty of rugby, you get to travel around the world and Mauritius is a nice place to go.”

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Malcolm Turnbull to become the first sitting PM to attend Sydney Mardi Gras

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed he will attend Mardi Gras in Sydney. Photo: Andrew Meares Performers rehearse their routines ahead of Mardi Gras. Photo: Cole Bennetts
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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Lucy Turnbull arrive at Kinselas for the 2016 Gay Mardi Gras.

Malcolm Turnbull will risk a backbench backlash by becoming the first sitting Australian prime minister to attend Mardi Gras.

Mr Turnbull will attend the gay and lesbian march in Sydney on Saturday night, although he is not expected to march like his Labor counterpart. Bill Shorten will be the first federal leader of a major party to participate in the march.

A spokesperson for Mr Turnbull confirmed the prime minister would attend the event, which he typically attends every year because it is in his electorate.

The move may rile some Coalition conservatives, who have previously warned it would be “dangerous” for the PM to attend.

However conservative MPs contacted on Saturday declined to comment.

Mr Turnbull has also written a message for the festival guide, calling Mardi Gras “a celebration of Australia’s diversity”.

“The hard work and commitment of Sydney’s LGBTQI community has seen this event grow to a festival drawing visitors to Sydney from around the world. However, we cannot forget the history of Mardi Gras and the ongoing need to promote inclusion and deliver equality for all Australians,” he said in the message.

Same-sex marriage remains a fractious issue for the Coalition.

Mr Turnbull has continued with Tony Abbott’s policy of holding a public plebiscite even though he has previously advocated for a free vote in Parliament. However the party’s right-wing has sought to undermine the plebiscite process.

Mr Shorten said he was delighted to be attending Mardi Gras with his wife, kids and Labor Party colleagues in support of marriage equality.

“We’re on the cusp of achieving marriage equality and for me there’s never been a more exciting time to attend Mardi Gras for the first time,” he said.

“Mardi Gras is a fantastic celebration of LGBTI culture, and a powerful demonstration of the ongoing fight against discrimination.

“Marriage equality is a simple, overdue change to Australian law that could be made a reality today if Malcolm Turnbull would just grant his MPs a free vote.”

Mardi Gras CEO Michele Bauer said Mr Shorten’s participation was significant.

“It means a great deal,” Ms Bauer told Sky News on Saturday. “The fact that our issues are being taken seriously, the fact that we are being accepted fully into the community, that our voices are being listed to.”

Mr Shorten says Labor will introduce a bill to legalise same-sex marriage within 100 days if it wins the election.

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Retiring federal politicians will get six-figure pensions for life

Former ministers Warren Truss and Ian Macfarlane are among 16 retiring MPs who will benefit from a generous six-figure parliamentary pension. Photo: Andrew Meares
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The majority of federal politicians who have announced their retirement this year will be paid annual pensions of at least $118,000 – and in some cases much more – adding more than $2 million to the annual bill.

Of the 22 MPs and senators who have already announced they will not re-contest the upcoming election, 16 are believed to be eligible for the controversial Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Scheme.

Only available to politicians elected before 2004, the defined benefits scheme already costs taxpayers more than $40 million a year.

Eight Coalition and eight Labor MPs are set to qualify this time and most will be paid a minimum of $118,125 – or 75 per cent of a current MPs base salary for superannuation purposes of $157,500.

That will add close to $1.9 million to the bill, with more retirements potentially to come.

But that doesn’t include extra allowances for time served as a minister, parliamentary secretary or other office holder. Of the 16 eligible, 14 will get loadings that could add tens of thousands to their retirement income.

Former deputy prime minister Warren Truss and long-serving Coalition ministers Ian Macfarlane and Philip Ruddock will benefit the most from the scheme, grossing between $150,000 and $200,000 a year.

Other Coalition MPs who will benefit from the system – scrapped for new MPs in 2004 because it was deemed too generous – include Mal Brough, Bruce Billson, Bruce Scott, Bill Heffernan and Andrew Southcott. Mr Brough is covered by the scheme because his first stint in Parliament began in 1996.

On the Labor side former speaker Anna Burke and former ministers Joe Ludwig, Laurie Ferguson, Alan Griffin, Bernie Ripoll and Jan McLucas will do handsomely. Jill Hall and Kelvin Thomson will also benefit.

And they will get the money – fully indexed and called a “retirement allowance” – annually. Or they can choose to convert half of it into a lump sum as soon as they leave.

Several of the longest-serving MPs, including Mr Ruddock and Mr Truss, will also be eligible for the Life Gold Pass, which entitles them to 10 taxpayer-funded business-class return flights a year.

But six retiring MPs will miss out on such arrangements.

Former trade minister Andrew Robb, Nationals MP John Cobb and Labor MPs Melissa Parke, Gary Gray, Alannah MacTiernan and Joe Bullock do not qualify for the scheme because they were elected after October 2004. They will be paid superannuation under a standard accumulation scheme instead.

The Parliament is losing close to 400 years of lawmaking experience with this year’s mass exodus.

And that’s not including seven MPs and senators who have called it quits since the 2013 election, sparking by-elections or Senate vacancies.

Of those, former prime minister Kevin Rudd, former treasurer Joe Hockey and senators Brett Mason and Kate Lundy also qualify for pensions.

However, Greens senators Penny Wright and Christine Milne and Coalition senator Michael Ronaldson miss out.

It’s understood the pension of Coalition MP Don Randall, who died last year, is being paid to his family.John Howard scrapped the pension scheme in 2004 after coming under pressure from then-opposition leader Mark Latham.

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Dress code: Women are still a soft target

Illustration: Jim PavlidisWhen one of the pioneers of women in footy media first approached a leading club of the time to ask if she would be allowed into the changerooms, where post-match press briefings were conducted then, she was told by the players she would be welcome – as long as she was wearing what they were wearing. That was only half a working lifetime ago, and you can just about hear the sniggering still.  
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In fact, it never died. In 1990, Lisa Olsson, a Boston Herald reporter, was sexually harassed by New England Patriot players in their locker-room, and ridiculed by management when she complained. Eventually, they were punished, but the fans gave her such a hard time that News Corp arranged for her to move to Sydney, where she worked for the next eight years. I’m sure — I know — many women reporters who could relate.

And still. Late last year, there was cricketer Chris Gayle’s power play against Channel 10 reporter Mel McLaughlin. This week, a Tennessee court heard again the story of Erin Andrews, a sidelines reporter and sportscaster with ESPN. In 2008, a pervert rigged a peephole in a hotel room to film her undressing, then when he couldn’t find a buyer for the footage posted it on the internet anyway. He picked his mark because she was attracting a lot of attention in her job. He went to jail for a while, but she lives with the humiliation every day still, because every day someone reminds her. She is in court seeking damages from the hotel for its complicity.

It is a horrible story per se. But the incidentals are just as disturbing. The footage was viewed 17 million times on the internet and despite the efforts of authorities apparently can still be accessed. What does that say about our prurience? Other instances of harassment by players, officials and fans were detailed. Reportedly, ESPN told Andrews the only way to put the drama behind her was to appear in an interview explaining that it was not a promotional stunt. Implicit in this is the network cared at least as much about its own image as hers. ESPN also was accused of using camera angles to present Andrews salaciously. The network denies this.

Sexism remains an issue in sports media because the presence of women in the ranks still has not been normalised after all these years. It varies from sport to sport. Sometimes, it is sheer weight of unequal numbers, sometimes it is a lingering attitude. Cricket, where I spend much of my working life, is especially bloke-ish. That is hard enough as a working environment.

But it also means that women periodically are forced onto a front line where they would rather not be. McLaughlin only wanted to be a sports reporter. So did Andrews. Instead, they found themselves at the centre of campaigns. McLaughlin’s discomfort was plain to see. She wanted it all just to go away, which was fair enough, since it should never have happened into the first place. Andrews wanted it all to go away, too, but in the US, no one would let it. I know many male reporters have been pummeled in interviews, but none who have been made to squirm as McLaughlin was, or put upon like Olsson and Andrews were. I know none who were advised to take their clothes off in the dressing room, titter, titter.

Of course, television is a visual medium. You cannot but help notice how the people on it look as well as what they say. It is all part of the gig. I don’t doubt that looks are considered by even the most enlightened television bosses when employing women. I know, for instance, that the late John Sorell, who ran the highly successful Channel 9 newsroom in the 80s and 90s, liked his male sports presenters to look a bit rough around the edges, because he thought that was what people expected of sports journalists.

But that’s beside the point. All, men and women, have jobs to do and should be allowed to do them without being made to feel marginal, apprehensive, belittled or threatened. In none of the above instances had the reporter done any more than to go about her job. She was a soft target, the sort you might think any self-respecting professional sportsman would be embarrassed to take aim at, and yet they could not help themselves.

You could widen the argument to include all who work in sport. It is why latter-day efforts to foster the involvement of women at all levels – board, staff and auxiliary – are so important. Quotas and minimums might seem artificial and tokenistic, but at least they set the ball rolling. It is one thing to talk about respect and responsibility, another to live it. I don’t know for certain that a gentler polity would prevail if women were in charge of the world — we might be about to find out! — but I do know that there should never be another Erin Andrews case, and that men should be as adamant about that as women.

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

Within a Lyon’s roar of World T20 glory: Australia need unexpected brilliance

On March 18 Australia start their final push to the top of the mountain when they take on New Zealand in the first round of the World T20.
Nanjing Night Net

Steve Smith’s men are ranked sixth in the shortest format in contrast to the Test and one-day arenas where they are standing like Hillary at the summit.

They were near perfect 12 months ago in the World Cup when the now-retired Mitchell Johnson, the surgically recuperating Mitchell Stark, fast bowling Sherpa Josh Hazlewood and the 20-over superannuant Shane Watson did the business comprehensively with the ball.

The ascent to Test cricket supremacy has me marginally baffled and I have pored over the ICC methodology several times … ours is not to reason why. Steve Smith quite rightly says there is much room for improvement from his morphing squad and they will only get better at the longer forms once the squad settles.

This will not be a World Cup dominated by the fast bowling Australia used so devastatingly in the 50-over format. Glenn Maxwell, Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar, the selection afterthought, should play every game. We will see spinners opening the bowling for a number of teams; India with Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravi Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh and slow left-armer Pawan Negi have come well prepared.

Taking the speed off the ball and making batsmen swing and trust the surface – a judgment much harder to make on slow, spinning pitches – will be the key to restricting scores. Scoring runs then will require as much touch as it does swish. Expect the reverse sweep to be the most prolific scoring shot.

Australia will conduct their campaign with their best spinner turning out in NSW blue trying to win the Sheffield Shield instead of wattle and green. It is difficult to reconcile Nathan Lyon’s omission in a tournament that has “SPIN” tattooed to its forehead.

Smith may well become a frontline bowler and even Aaron Finch’s rarely seen left-arm slows could get a gig. Creativity and flexibility are Smith’s captaincy hallmarks and he will need to be at his best to organise the resources the selectors have given him.

Top of the order: Usman Khawaja should open the batting in India. Photo: Getty Images

Usman Khawaja must open the batting with the right-handed Finch and either David Warner or Smith comes in when a like-handed batsman is dismissed. Keeping a right/left combination at the crease might make a significant difference if the opposition keep wheeling up spin.

That sort of order leaves Watson, a veteran of the IPL, to float through the order unless Smith wants him to open and relegates Finch – testy questions which selectors do appear to have countenanced when putting together this squad.

With so many Australians playing professional T20 around the planet it is a small mystery why the team ranks well down the ladder. Perhaps it is because 20-over results can be swung by the performance of individuals, and to an extent by fortune good and bad.

Wielding the willow fiercely at every delivery on pitches of common blandness on outfields with shrinking dimensions relegates cricket to a baseball facsimile. The blades are evolving in weight and form into flat-fronted baseball bats. This brings strength rather than finesse into a game where skill was once king.

When the cricket ball deviates little through the air and if the pitches don’t spin then bowlers are relegated to medium-paced pitchers. The key to winning T20 matches is for players to stick to the roles that best suit their own skill set and complement the team.

Chris Gayle is the biggest hitter in the game but has precious few team pennants to show for that brutishness.

Australia begin the campaign against New Zealand in northern India, so far north in fact that the Himalayas dominate the horizon at the Himachal Pradesh Stadium. If you stand on your tip toes in the eastern stand you can see the Dalai Lama’s house.

Usually this pitch doesn’t take much spin but it is late in the Indian season and the slow men will find some assistance before they return to the Punjab for games against Pakistan and India in Mohali. The Mohali pitch is known for bounce and pace after the pitch was relaid so that it would mirror Australian conditions. I’m not sure if India will be playing a “home” game on a bouncy pitch – chalk this one down to another spin-dominated match.

They should win the March 21 game in Bangalore against a qualifier even if it’s played on the footpath. Two of the five teams in the group go through to the semi-final in either Delhi (a notoriously dusty track) or Wankhede in Mumbai (another red-soiled dust bowl ), which means that the early information available to the selectors about spin bowling being essential to success in this tournament is certainly true. The slow bowlers should be sending down at least 12 of the 20 overs and the seam bowlers will be using plenty of cutters, spinners and back of the handers.

On current form Australia are appropriately ranked and it will need some outstanding and unexpected performances if they are to even make the semi-finals. Twenty-over cricket is the most fickle of formats and all things are possible, but it would have been nice for the selectors to get a grip on their “horses for courses” philosophy and put their best slow bowler on the plane.

It would make the climb to world domination so much easier.

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

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