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Loyalty to an airline? What’s the point? ( admin posted on May 21st, 2019 )

Airlines have spent the last ten years subtracting value, instead of adding it.It’s a bit like travel bookers talking to each other instead of their customers, but a survey of exhibitors and “business partners” at one of Europe’s biggest travel trade shows this month indicates just how big is the hole that the air travel business has dug itself into.
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The survey at the ITB Berlin travel show also offers an insight into the plight of national flag carriers like Qantas, created by government but now trying to survive in a dog-eat-dog corporate jungle.

Among its many findings, only nine per cent of respondents said they preferred to book flights with their national airline and only four cent were willing to forfeit value for money to do so.

In other words, “loyalty” these days barely qualifies for its definition. Value is king and, if the price isn’t right, the customer moves on.

“Customers reward airlines that offer transparent services and good value for money because they feel they are being treated well,” one of the participants, Martin Buck, director of the Competence Centre Travel & Logistics at Messe Berlin, commented.

“If a national carrier is unable to fulfil those demands then it loses its emotional bond with the customer.”

That qualification doesn’t just apply to national carriers: it’s harder than ever for all airlines these days to command customer loyalty.

They shouldn’t be surprised when they have set out to alienate their customers on the value-for-money front in the past decade.

The first big change in the value landscape, triggered by the travel recession that followed the US terrorist attacks in 2001, was a massive devaluation in frequent flyer benefits.

Suddenly “free” flights weren’t free anymore. “Taxes” (which mostly aren’t government taxes at all) and charges were required to be paid for the first time on flight redemptions, meaning a member of an airline loyalty program wanting to travel from Australia to the US or Europe could be required to pay $500 or more to access their “benefit”.

It was always going to come to that because frequent flyer programs are schemes built on unsustainable “contingent liabilities” that airlines amass in a desperate attempt to attract repeat business.

Unfortunately, the changed airline economy since 2001 has also meant that airlines have increase their average passenger loadings per flight from about 70 per cent to around 80 per cent.

Sophisticated yield management IT programs have enabled much more precise revenue control, but the window into which frequent flyer seat redemptions are supposed to fit has become a tiny fraction of the available seat inventory.

The shock of 2001 was only a shock or two away from the global financial crisis of 2007-09, which has spurned a second value downgrade for air travellers: the “ancillary revenue” craze, in which the fare is no longer the actual fare you’ll pay, but just a component of it.

On top of the “fare” you must now add charges for baggage, use of credit card, seat selection, priority boarding and a host of other optional extras.

Thankfully for consumers, most jurisdictions have begun to catch up with the lying epidemic that has accompanied the ancillary revenue craze: in Europe and the US airlines are now obliged to unequivocally state the all-up cost of an air ticket instead of hiding all or parts of it behind asterisks in the small print.

As Travellers’ Check has recently pointed out, the constant downgrading in the consumer value equation has accompanied a further squeezing in the space allocated to economy passengers as airlines increase the comfort for high-value business customers.

But the government’s measuring of domestic air fares also shows the lowest discount economy fares are now around 38 per cent cheaper than they were when stats gathering began in 2003.

And, in the past year, business fares have plunged around 36 per cent as Virgin Australia has become a fully fledged competitor to Qantas at the pointy end of the plane.

As the airline business contemplates another Christmas-New Year season of juicy 100 per cent load factors in industry-speak, it may like to contemplate where the tunnel it is digging will eventually lead.

Is the objective to get the unit operating cost per available seat kilometre to as near as possible to zero? After two decades of a continuous campaign of cost reduction, at what point in a mature air travel market like Australia’s do airline managers start thinking about radical concepts like value adding, instead of value subtraction which has been their preoccupation for a decade?

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Crime Stoppers ‘conflict’ in taxi app battle ( admin posted on May 21st, 2019 )

The ad running on the back of cabs around Sydney, part of a campaign paid for by the NSW Taxi Council. “We believe [the campaign] has been driven by Cabcharge to protect their virtual monopoly” … Ingogo managing director Hamish Petrie.
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Ingogo provides Android smartphones with magnetic stripe readers to drivers allowing them to accept credit cards without using the Cabcharge system.

Three grabs of the GoCatch app which lets users pay by PayPal and credit card.

A campaign to convince people to use “Crime Stoppers-approved” taxi booking apps has backfired after it was revealed the key spokeswoman for Cabcharge and the NSW Taxi Council is the company secretary and director of Crime Stoppers NSW.

The campaign, running on the back of hundreds of Sydney cabs and in the media, is now the subject of complaints to the NSW Ombudsman, NSW Fair Trading Minister and the ACCC.

Taxi industry vested interests such as Cabcharge and the NSW Taxi Council, which is run out of the Cabcharge head office, have been waging a campaign against apps such as GoCatch and Ingogo, which allow drivers and passengers to bypass taxi networks like Taxis Combined for bookings and payments.

University of Sydney economist Peter Abelson, who has extensively researched the taxi industry, said that of the 10 apps promoted in the Crime Stoppers campaign, the majority were controlled by Cabcharge-owned Combined Communications Network and its close business affiliates, which in turn control more than 80 per cent of the cabs in Sydney.

The apps that are not aligned with the major taxi networks are an emerging threat to Cabcharge’s virtual monopoly and have been portrayed as unsafe for passengers and even illegal.

Most people believe Crime Stoppers NSW is a NSW Police agency. Its logo is on every police car and media release and appears at every police press conference. NSW Police Force also runs the Crime Stoppers NSW anonymous tip line and appoints several of its directors, which include Assistant Commissioner Peter Barrie.

But Crime Stoppers in NSW, and elsewhere in Australia, is a not-for-profit company that relies on licensing fees from private industry for most of its revenue.

Companies pay to use the Crime Stoppers logo in their marketing. These include security screen maker Crimsafe, which prominently displays the Crime Stoppers logo on its website next to its own logo, and lock maker Lockwood, which has also used the Crime Stoppers brand in its advertising.

While Crime Stoppers campaigns always have a crime-prevention angle, they further – and in some cases are driven by – commercial interests.

Tracey Cain, who has been quoted as a spokeswoman for the NSW Taxi Council since at least 1999 and Cabcharge since at least 2003, has been a director of Crime Stoppers NSW since July 2011 and was appointed the company secretary in September this year.

Her company Australian Public Affairs still handles public relations for both Cabcharge and the NSW Taxi Council. It also handles lobbying for both organisations as well as Crime Stoppers NSW, according to the federal government’s lobbyist register.

A manager of Lockwood owner Assa Abloy is also a director of Crime Stoppers NSW.

Peter Price, director and chief executive of Crime Stoppers NSW, confirmed the NSW Taxi Council had paid a fee to attach the Crime Stoppers brand to its campaign and that Ms Cain had brought the opportunity to the Crime Stoppers NSW board. But he said Ms Cain was excluded from meetings about the deal.

Dr Abelson said there still appeared to be a conflict of interest.

“It’s using a community group or having the front of a community group to protect certain parts of the taxi industry,” he said. “It’s all a bit devious really and certainly not very transparent … I thought it was a NSW Police Force activity and I’m sure that is the public perception.”

Ingogo managing director Hamish Petrie – who like competitor GoCatch was not given a chance to obtain Crime Stoppers endorsement before or after the campaign kicked off – has filed complaints with bodies including the NSW Ombudsman, ACCC and NSW Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts.

He said in the complaints, seen by Fairfax Media, that the Crime Stoppers campaign was misleading and deceptive and the organisation was “masquerading as a public agency while doing the bidding of its commercial sponsors”.

Mr Petrie said drivers using his app must enter their taxi plate, validated mobile number and secure password to log in to Ingogo, and taxi drivers’ licences and authorities were scanned in person at Ingogo’s office.

Much of this detail is provided to the passenger, who must also provide identifying details, and the entire journey is logged using GPS.

“Ingogo can actually assist police and regulators with more detailed information than the [incumbent taxi] networks,” said Mr Petrie.

“It is blatantly clear their fear campaign against apps such as Ingogo is misleading, deceptive and a serious conflict of interest. We believe it has been driven by Cabcharge to protect their virtual monopoly.”

GoCatch and Ingogo have received hefty NSW and federal government grants, respectively.

At an event last week to launch GoCatch’s payment system to rival that of Cabcharge, NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner came out in support of the taxi booking apps.

He told the Australian Financial Review that taxi networks should put up or shut up and should focus on delivering “better value to users”, who would then decide who would be successful.

In November, Fairfax Media reported that the O’Farrell government was considering smashing the virtual monopoly in the taxi industry by removing the law forcing taxi operators to join an “authorised” radio network, most of which are owned by Cabcharge and Premier. A decision is expected early next year.

Cabcharge and its various interests have been heavily lobbying the government against any changes to the status quo, arguing Sydney would look like Kampala, Uganda, and public safety would be in jeopardy.

In its latest available financial reports, for the year ended June 30, 2011, Crime Stoppers NSW earned $138,000 in licensing fees on top of $40,000 in government grants and $20,043 in sponsorships. In 2010 it generated $297,000 in licensing fees.

The organisation’s operations are run by NSW Police and it does not have any employees, but in the 2011 financial year it paid Price $72,667 for his services as chief executive, plus $85,685 to Price’s company First Light Group Pty Ltd.

NSW Police would not comment on the relative safety of the various taxi booking apps, but said in the last financial year there were 25,000 “valid contacts” to Crime Stoppers resulting in more than 17,000 intelligence reports being created.

It said the information obtained through Crime Stoppers directly led to the arrests of more than 270 people, the seizure of more than $25 million worth of drugs and the recovery of more than $500,000 worth of lost property.

NSW Police said information received through Crime Stoppers directly led to the arrest of two women for drug offences at Sydney Airport, including one with 1.5 kilograms of cocaine in her possession.

It said Crime Stoppers information had also led to the seizure in 2010 of a rare marmoset stolen from a wildlife park on the south coast, and in 2009 provided a crucial lead resulting in the arrest of a man wanted over a violent assault of a female police officer at Kings Cross.

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‘Lunatic’ charged over cut Telstra cables ( admin posted on May 21st, 2019 )

A man from Sydney’s northern beaches cut cables which disrupted web and phone services.A man has been charged over allegedly cutting Telstra cables on Sydney’s northern beaches and causing millions of dollars in damage.
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During September and November, up to 20 Telstra pits were accessed and damaged, cutting telecommunications to a large number of homes and businesses in the Manly and northern beaches areas, police said.

Police from Manly Local Area Command formed Strike Force Manway to investigate the incidents and on November 27 a man, 25 of Cromer, was charged with a number of offences relating to the alleged cable tampering.

Since that time a further four incidents of malicious damage have occurred in the area and on Friday police from Strike Force Manway executed a search warrant at a home of the same Cromer man, arresting him again.

He was taken to Manly police station and charged with 29 offences including 23 counts of malicious damage, four counts of breaching bail, one count of making false representation to police and one count of resisting arrest.

Police allege the man’s actions caused millions of dollars in damage and disruption to services.

He was initially refused bail on Friday by police and was set to appear at Parramatta Bail Court on Saturday, where a magistrate granted him bail again.

The crime manager of Manly Local Area Command, Detective Inspector Luke Arthurs, labelled the man a “lunatic” who didn’t appear to have a motive.

“I think he’s a lunatic,” Inspector Arthurs said.

“He hasn’t got a motive. He didn’t do it for financial gain.”

Inspector Arthurs said thousands of residents and businesses were affected by the alleged actions, including the Manly police station, which was taken offline for about nine hours.

“We’re talking about thousands of residents and businesses being affected,” Inspector Arthurs said. “The loss of productivity would be in the millions [of dollars].”

Inspector Arthurs said the man cut cables, disrupting internet and telephone services, and that police learnt of this after business owners in the Seaforth area reported the problem.

The man is set to appear before Manly Local Court on Wednesday.

 This reporter is on Facebook: /bengrubb

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Kate: Not so common, after all ( admin posted on May 21st, 2019 )

Kate’s family tree paints a far more patrician picture than many suspected of the royal bride.She is celebrated as part of a modern, enlightened approach to royal succession – a commoner without blue blood, a marriage of love rather than family constraint.
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But Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, may have far more patrician roots than once suspected.

Research undertaken by a Melbourne school teacher has found that the Berkshire-bred wife of Prince William, second-in-line to the throne, is related to one of Britain’s oldest and grandest families.

The London Telegraph reports that the 30-year-old is related to William Petty FitzMaurice, the 1st Marquess of Lansdowne, who was prime minister from 1782 to 1783.

The Marquess, whose ancestral home, Bowood House in Wiltshire, is one of Britain’s finest surviving stately homes, was instrumental in negotiating the end of the American War of Independence.

The ancestral connection is born from Catherine’s second cousin three times removed, Lady Barbara Bullock. In 1917, Lady Bullock – nee Lupton – married a descendant of Petty FitzMaurice, Sir Christopher Bullock. Principal private secretary to Winston Churchill in 1919, Bullock went on to become permanent under-secretary at the British Air Ministry from 1931 to 1936.

While much has been made of the Duchess ‘humble’ ancestry – with links established from the Middletons to a street sweeper, coal miners and a prisoner – the new family connection tells a different story altogether.

William Bortrick, a royal genealogist and chairman of Burke’s Peerage, told the Telegraph: “Given what a fuss people have made about Catherine’s humble background, this will certainly make an interesting inclusion to the next edition of Burke’s Peerage, which we hope to publish after the birth of the Duke and Duchess’ first child.”

History teacher, Michael Reed, 47, sent his findings to the Duchess in October and received a letter of thanks from St James’ Palace. At the time, Catherine would have been in the very early stages of pregnancy.

“It was kind of you to take the trouble to write as you did and thank you for bringing this to our attention,” wrote Rebecca Deacon, her assistant private secretary.

“Her Royal Highness would have me send you her best wishes, and thanks for thinking of her in this way.”

Mr Reed told the newspaper: “It is a good feeling to know that I’ve unearthed something that may be of interest to the Duchess, her family and the Royal family.

“I could sense from the letter that she was pleased with my discovery, highlighting an aristocratic side of her family.”

Catherine has returned to official duties after a spell in hospital with acute morning sickness earlier this month, while a British nurse at the centre of an Australian radio prank call to the Duchess’ hospital is reported to have blamed two 2Day FM DJs for her death.

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Nikkei soars after Abe’s election win ( admin posted on May 21st, 2019 )

Tokyo stocks soared 1.62 per cent at the open after Japan’s conservative opposition swept to victory in national polls, with promises from its leader to press for more central bank easing.
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The benchmark Nikkei 225 index added 158.12 points to 9895.68 at the start of trade, as the yen plunged in the wake of the Liberal Democratic Party’s landslide win over the ruling Democratic Party of Japan.

In earlier Tokyo forex trading, the US dollar soared to ¥84.30, up from ¥83.52 in New York on Friday, and its strongest level against the Japanese currency in more than a year-and-a-half.

The euro also soared to multi-month highs at ¥111.10 from ¥109.94 in US trade.

Premier-in-waiting Shinzo Abe, the LDP’s hawkish leader, has vowed to pressure the Bank of Japan (BoJ) into more aggressive policy easing measures in a bid to inject new life into the world’s third-largest economy.

Mr Abe’s central bank pledge has weighed on the yen in recent weeks as traders bet that an LDP victory would hike the likelihood of more easing from the central bank, and see the appointment of a like-minded BoJ governor after current chief Masaaki Shirakawa’s term terms ends next year.

A weaker yen tends to lift local stock markets because it helps make exporters’ products more competitive overseas.

Mr Abe has vowed to bolster Japan’s defences in the face of a territorial spat with China, and boost spending on infrastructure at a time when much of the tsunami-wrecked northeast remains a shell of its former self.

“The election results were very much in-line with market expectations. A relief rally is in order, helped by the stronger dollar,” SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities Hiroichi Nishi told Dow Jones Newswires.

“Next, investors will be eager to see the kinds of concrete policy measures that the new government proposes.”


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A child taken, a mother grieves ( admin posted on April 21st, 2019 )

”It wasn’t just her child they took away, it was also her voice…” An unnamed litigation guardian.EXCLUSIVE
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It is more than three months since Rebecca’s child was taken from her, but the pain is still raw and the decision still impossible for the grieving young mother to fully comprehend.

She had fought hard during the court hearing to keep the little girl who had been the centre of her world for eight years. She had stayed strong through the long days in front of the magistrate and the lawyers, and had kept her composure over more than three hours of testing cross-examination.

But the decision, when it came, cut like a knife. At first, she was speechless with shock. The moment she stepped from the courtroom she collapsed in grief.

“I tried to comfort her like any other decent human being would but she was totally stricken,” says a veteran litigation guardian, who had been at Rebecca’s side throughout the case.

“I told her she was a wonderful person and that she was a good mother but I just felt powerless to help her.”

Rebecca did not lose her child because she was an incompetent or abusive mother. Indeed, the reports from the paediatrician, the psychologist and the family support worker presented in court all acknowledged her love, dedication and capability.

Rebecca has a mild intellectual disability and she lost her child because it was determined that the elderly relatives of her estranged partner – who had challenged for custody of her daughter – would make better parents.

Now Rebecca has access to her daughter only on alternate weekends and for part of school holidays – a decision which she cannot appeal and about which she must remain publicly silent.

Rebecca’s advisers believed they could not resist a decision in favour of her former partner’s family and accepted a consent order. There can be no legal challenge to that order. Their decision was based on potential legal liability and restrictions on the role of a litigation guardian, an appointee whose job is to “stand in the shoes” of a disabled person during court proceedings.

Because of the rules around media reporting of family law matters, we cannot tell you Rebecca’s real name, or that of her daughter. And she is prohibited from speaking to the media about the case and the turmoil she is going through.

After she made a number of anguished and angry phone calls and sent text messages immediately after her daughter was removed, Rebecca was called back to court. There, she was subjected to a further order forbidding her from talking about the case to anyone other than social workers, lawyers and counsellors.

“It wasn’t just her child they took away, it was also her voice,” says her litigation guardian, who also cannot be named. “She was distressed. There was a bit of language but it wasn’t threatening.”

The case has deeply concerned lawyers and human rights workers, who believe Rebecca is the victim of an inflexible Australian Family Law Act that discriminates against disabled parents in breach of United Nations conventions protecting the rights of the disabled and children.

For some, there are disturbing parallels with the “stolen generations” – the Aboriginal children forcibly removed by the state because their parents were deemed incapable of properly caring for them.

Victoria’s Public Advocate, Colleen Pearce, has written to the Human Rights Commission and the federal Attorney-General raising alarm at the separation a child and her natural mother when no evidence was produced that the child was at risk of harm or neglect.

She told Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graham Innes of her “serious concerns that the processes and outcome of the case breach the human rights of this young woman and her child”.

Rebecca’s litigation guardian believes Rebecca and her daughter have suffered a serious miscarriage of justice.”I think this is an appalling way to treat a person with a very mild disability who is doing her best and her best is judged to be not good enough,” says the woman, one of the most experienced in her field in Victoria.

She described Rebecca as an “average young mother”, a sociable person with a strong network of friends and a supportive mother of her own. “She does not come across as having a disability.”

The child’s paternal relatives, who had shared parenting responsibilities before the relationship between Rebecca and the girl’s father ended, had applied to the Federal Magistrates Court for an order granting them “residence” and parenting responsibility for the child.

“Reports from the paediatrician, the psychologist and the family support worker all indicated that things were going well, that she was a good mother, a caring mother and that this little girl was not at risk,” the guardian says.

The case had then turned on the “better parenting standard” under the Family Law Act, which requires a court to determine what is in the best interests of the child.

“That’s where we got caught. The act assumes the parties are normally the natural parents and where that is not the case it doesn’t give preference to a natural parent. And it does not give protection to someone with a cognitive disability. It treats disability as a barrier to parenting just like drug addiction is a barrier.

“If she didn’t have a mild intellectual disability, I am sure that her child would still be living with her. It is wrong at every level.”

She says Rebecca has now lost her supporting parent’s benefit, and been forced to move from the country to be closer to her child, who is struggling to cope with the change in her life.

“This has been a devastating experience, but people with disabilities get used to being beaten up by systems. They get used to being denigrated and being treated as incapable. They come to expect it.

“At times during the court hearing she would say, ‘I just can’t do this. It is too difficult’. But she did because she loved and wanted to keep her child. That’s what has made this all the more devastating. She hung in there, but she lost her child anyway.”

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Clarke limps, Australia chases win ( admin posted on April 21st, 2019 )

David Warner opens up on his way to another half-century. Michael Clarke injured.
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SRI LANKA 336 & 2-65 (Karuanaratne 30, Sangakkara 18*, Watson 1-10) trailing AUSTRALIA 5-450 dec and 278 (Warner 68, Clarke 57, Herath 5-95) by 327 runs at Bellerive Oval, Hobart. Stumps, day four.

Live scores

AUSTRALIA needs eight final-day wickets in Hobart to record its first Test win of the summer against Sri Lanka, but will have to do it with Ben Hilfenhaus and Michael Clarke both shackled by injury.

Sri Lanka was set a victory target of 393 after Australia was dismissed for 278 just before tea on day four at Bellerive Oval. The home team seemed on track to easily set a 400-plus target as Michael Clarke produced a sparkling half-century from only 43 deliveries. Shortly after that milestone, however, the captain was forced to retire with what Cricket Australia confirmed was a suspected right-hamstring injury.

Last summer he injured the same hamstring and missed part of the ODI tri-series, in which Ricky Ponting temporarily resumed the captaincy before his omission.

Despite the injury Clarke took his place in the slips for the entire final session as Sri Lanka began its chase. His presence was not entirely positive for Australia as he squandered a straightforward opportunity to remove Kumar Sangakkara for three off Nathan Lyon, barely even getting his hands to the thigh-high chance.

Sri Lanka will start day five at 2-65 with its two great batsmen, Kumar Sangakkara (18 not out) annd captain Mahela Jayawardene (5 not out), at the crease.

If was to score another 328 runs and claim victory it would clearly be a record for it. On the 19 occasions it has chased in a Test outside the subcontinent it has won only twice, in England in August 1998 and in Zimbabwe in December 1999. In both matches its victory target was only 35.

Australia’s final-session breakthroughs on day four were made by Shane Watson and Mitch Starc. Watson had first-innings century-maker Tillakaratne Dilshan caught behind for 11 from his first delivery, which pitched on off-stump and seamed away from the right-hander. Starc produced a great example of his most threatening delivery, a fast yorker, to bowl left-hander Dimuth Karunaratne for 30.

Australia made a great start to day four at Bellerive Oval with openers David Warner (68) and Ed Cowan (56) contributing a century partnership, their second in Tests, but fell within four overs of each other late in the first session.

Phillip Hughes (16), Watson (5) and Matthew Wade (11) all feel cheaply after lunch as Australia chased quick runs, seemingly with an eye to a declaration.

Australia’s batting was steadied, yet again, by Clarke and Mike Hussey (31 not out). They added 57 runs promptly, with Clarke particularly effective. The captain reached his half-century from just 43 deliveries in another imperious batting display.

In the same over that Clarke passed 50 he turned Chanaka Welegedara to forward square-leg for two runs and then immediately called for the attention of team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris. Within a minute Clarke had retired his innings and was leaving the ground, with Cricket Australia confirming it was due to a suspected right hamstring injury that was to be formally scanned after the end of play.

After Clarke’s departure Australia’s tailenders tried to hit out to support Hussey. Even the injured Hilfenhaus chose to bat but Sri Lanka nevertheless kept the target to under 400.

Left-arm spinner Herath recovered from his wicket-less first innings to claim 5-95 in the second and increase the likelihood he will finish ahead of England’s Graeme Swann as the leading wicket-taker of 2012.

Australia began day four at 0-27 and faced few nervous moments early, comfortably handling for Sri Lankan seamers Shaminda Eranga and Chanaka Welegedara. During their bowling partnership Australia scored 39 runs.

The introduction of the slower but more accurate Angelo Mathews and Nuwan Kulasekera successfully stymied Australia’s scoring rate and triggered an 16-over stint where the home team failed to hit a boundary.

The boundary drought was broken when left-armer Welegedara was introduced. His first bounce was an appetising bouncer that Warner comfortably pulled to the square-leg boundary to move to 52, marking the first time he had scored consecutive Test half-centuries.

Australia scored notable boundaries in each of the next three overs. In the 38th Warner blasted Rangana Herath over wide long-on for six, in the 39th Cowan cut Welegedara behind point for his half-century – which featured eight boundaries, double what Warner managed in his milestone – but clearly the most notable occurred in the 40th.

As left-arm spinner Herath was about to deliver Warner employed a switch hit, a tactic he had previously reserved for limited-overs internationals. Instead of the ball pitching outside leg-stump and spinning further away it was perfect in his new stance to swat through the vacant forward square-leg region for a right-hander, which was technically cover-point in his customary stance.

Herath, to that stage wicketless in the match, got his revenge in the next over when he elicited an edge from Warner, who was trying the cut off the back foot, that was well caught by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene.

Three overs’ later Welegedara provided another reminder of his ability to provide the occasional gem of a delivery. Left-hander Cowan, like Hughes in the first innings, tried to defend a ball angled into him from Welegedara only to be decisively bowled between bat and pad.

Apart from Herath’s haul the main highlight from Sri Lanka in the field were produced by the visitors’ wicketkeeper. Prasanna Jayawardene made a lightning-quick stumping of Watson off Herath and then later took a brilliant one-handed diving catch to remove Siddle from the bowling of Welegedara.

HIGHEST FOURTH INNINGS TOTALS TO WIN A TEST AFTER AUSTRALIA SET SRI LANKA 393 TO WIN AT BELLERIVE   7-418 – West Indies v Australia, St John’s, 20034-414 – South Africa v Australia, Perth, 20084-406 – India v West Indies, Port of Spain, 19763-404 – Australia v England, Leeds, 19484-387 – India v England, Chennai, 2008

HIGHEST FOURTH INNING TOTALS – SRI LANKA410 – v Australia, Hobart, 2007 (lost)4-391 – v Pakistan, Colombo, 2009 (draw)9-352 – v South Africa, Colombo, 2006 (won)348 – v Australia, Hobart, 1989 (lost)6-344 – v New Zealand, Hamilton, 1991 (draw)

HIGHEST SUCCESSFUL RUN CHASE IN HOBART6-369 – Australia v Pakistan, 1999

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Liar, fraudster, con-man – and that’s the victim ( admin posted on April 21st, 2019 )

Mark Imbrogno leaves court in August. Nazar Karabidian was earlier found guilty by a jury.
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Lee Rix leaves the County Court in August.

Two men who kidnapped, injured and made extortion threats to a self-confessed liar, con-man and fraudster were today each jailed by a Melbourne judge for five years.

Mark Imbrogno and Nazar Karabidian were earlier found guilty by a jury, which heard Lee Rix lied as easily as he breathed.

Judge Phillip Coish today told the pair the kidnap in broad daylight was a “brazen act” and that they had “taken the law into your own hands” as he sentenced each to three years behind bars.

Judge Coish found the purpose of that offence was to try to “bring the victim to account” for the money he owed Karabidian and to force him to repay it.

Two days before the pair assaulted and kidnapped “a terrified” Rix in Geelong in 2010, Karabidian profusely thanked Imbrogno – “my shadow and right arm” – for his trust, respect and loyalty.

Prosecutor Diana Manova said Karabidian had enlisted Imbrogno because of his size, readiness for violence and preparedness to pressure Rix, 51, to repay money.

In her trial opening, Ms Manova said Rix, who is also known by three other names, owed at the time $500,000 to various people and in May, 2010, was hiding from Karabidian.

Ms Manova said Karabidian, 38, repeatedly asked Rix for money, which a witness would say was $400,000, but he had refused to pay it back.

Rix had phoned a friend to have her ask Karabidian for more time, which she did, but later Karabidian told her he had a friend that people called the “flesh eater” because he took his tool box with him and drilled people’s flesh, Ms Manova said.

After weeks of repeatedly requesting money from Rix, Karabidian and Imbrogno, 41, found him in Geelong, attacked him and drove him to Thornbury.

Ms Manova said Imbrogno cut Rix’s face and threatened him with a screwdriver before they drove to Anglesea, secretly followed by the police special operations group.

It was there, in a caravan as the three ate pizzas, drank beer and watched the Brownlow Medal count, that the SOG arrested the men and freed Rix.

The jury found Imbrogno and Karabidian guilty of intentionally injuring and kidnapping Rix and extorting him with threats of inflicting injury.

During the County Court trial the jury heard about the man called the “flesh-eater” who drilled people’s bodies, Karabidian’s respect for Imbrogno and how Rix, a self-confessed liar, con-man and fraudster, hid from Karabidian because he owed him about $400,000.

Barristers for both men, who pleaded not guilty and who did not give evidence, disputed Rix’s claims and attacked him as a witness without credit.

In evidence, Rix said Karabidian was then his best friend, a fellow gambler, they worked in finance together and the pair often owed one another money.

He told Ms Manova he agreed to get in the car with Karabidian “if he keeps Mark away” because he was terrified of him.

After leaving Thornbury together, Rix said they drove to Anglesea and went to a pizza shop.

He told the jury: ” … and when we were doing that … I found it a bit strange, when I was in the pizza shop, I still had bloodstained, you know, there was … my lip was split open, I was bleeding, it was pretty obvious I’d been in something.

“They didn’t seem to notice, or the pizza shop went around like nothing was happening. And then we walked along the main street of Anglesea.”

They bought beer and started eating the pizza in the caravan and “then I think the Brownlow came on, you know the count”.

Rix said he told Imbrogno to go outside to smoke a cigarette and then Karabidian got a phone call and “I could hear ‘get on the floor, get on the floor’, and I looked up and Mark had red dots on his chest and people yelling at him to get down and take his hands out of his pockets …”

The SOG had announced their appearance.

He agreed with David Glynn, for Imbrogno, he had lied to and tricked people out of money over 15 years, but denied his “entire story” of abduction and extortion was a “pack of lies”.

He agreed he had defrauded people in at least two states of thousands of dollars – and was now wanted in NSW – and once entered a bank and asked the manager “if I could have $50,000 because I was being threatened”.

But Rix admitted that was a lie and he had done that because he had a debt.

Mr Glynn asked: “Let me put to you that you are a very successful liar, what do you say about that?”

“I’ve got nothing to say about it,” he replied.

Mr Glynn: “In fact I suggest that lying to you comes about as natural as breathing?”

Rix: “I don’t agree.”

Mr Glynn: “I suggest to you that you’re the sort of person who could sell ice to the Eskimos?”

Rix: “I’m a trained salesman.”

Rix denied a suggestion by Terry Sullivan, for Karabidian, that a woman whose child had cancer begged him for some of the money he owed her so the child could have a scan.

He agreed with Dr Sullivan he had “good persuasive skills” when selling something, but said it was wrong to suggest that when he took money from people did not have a conscience about it.

In her final address, Ms Manova told the jury no one liked con-men or liars, but “you are not here to like or dislike anyone”, rather to act impartially without emotion, fear or prejudice.

The judge said in his sentencing remarks that Karabidian was the instigator and organiser of the kidnapping who had enlisted Imbrogno’s help.

Judge Coish said Imbrogno was an active and willing participant who had acted aggressively and violently.

He said Rix had a long history of owing money to people and that because of the offences his previous state of paranoia had worsened.

Rix now experienced difficulty sleeping and was depressed, anxious and lonely.

Judge Coish said Imbrogno had developed a strong bond with Karabidian who had encouraged and supported him in late 2009 when he was unemployed and at a low ebb.

Letters from his wife, mother and a priest showed a good side to Imbrogno’s character, the judge said.

Character witnesses described Karabidian as a gregarious man who helped people out and who maintained good relations with his wife and son.

The judge said offences of this type must be discouraged and assessed both men’s rehabilitation prospects as “reasonably good”.

He ordered both to serve a minimum of three years less 112 days.

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Piano is key to artistic growth ( admin posted on April 21st, 2019 )

KAREN Williams is to be applauded for promoting appropriate development to revitalise the CBD of Cleveland. However, Cleveland already has so much infrastructure awaiting utilisation.
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It has a rail link to the city. With this, Cleveland has access to the whole world literally. It has the bay and a jetty already in Raby Bay to allow visitors access the impressive and extensive waterways of Moreton Bay. The bay itself has islands, beaches and communities each with their own identity.

The uncut diamond in the crown of the Redlands is the Redlands Performing Arts Centre or the concert hall, as I call it.

Perhaps not everyone knows what a treasure we have here. Those who have attended an event in the auditorium will have found the venue has among the best acoustics of any medium sized hall in Australia. The building is also attractive, its seating comfortable and its setting adjacent to the Black Swamp bushland reserve really is unique and reflective of the natural environment of the Redlands.

It is the perfect place for concerts and stage performances of almost any genre classical music, jazz, theatre, indigenous music and dance, musicals or ballet. It is also so accessible and inviting a contrast to the rather tangled mess that has become of QPAC and its environs at South Bank.

I consider our concert hall could host (now please, I am not a snob these are my preferences) medium size orchestral concerts, jazz ensembles, ballet, theatre and above all chamber music. It is the perfect venue for chamber music and would make an ideal hub for a chamber music festival.

Such events the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Townsville, for example draw literally thousands of visitors each year, visitors from all over the world who stay in hotels, eat at the restaurants and enjoy the waters of Cleveland Bay in winter in North Queensland. The musical workshops and master classes provide expert training by the best musicians to local students.

They also bring in dollars. Why should we not have something similar here?

However, until the concert hall has a piano, it is a cathedral without the stained glass windows. A piano will allow not just my possibly eclectic choice of music, but also jazz, lunch time jam sessions, song recitals, old time favourites, dance music the limits set only by the demands of the audience. A piano is the key that will open the door of new opportunities in RPAC.

Chris Ayres, Wellington Point

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Carols by Candlelight  ( admin posted on April 21st, 2019 )

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park
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Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Dubbo West, residents of Dubbo celebrated Carols by Candlelight at No1 Oval Victoria Park

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