Transparency International Australia chairman Anthony Whealy wants bribes to foreign officials to be classed as a crime. Photo: Peter RaeAustralia has become “complacent” about corruption and the failure of successive federal governments to stamp out foreign bribery has resulted in the country plummeting in a global corruption index, a former judge who presided over NSW corruption inquiries has warned.
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Anti-corruption organisation Transparency International released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index on Wednesday, which showed Australia had slid in the rankings for the third consecutive year.

It now sits at number 13 in the index of 168 countries, behind New Zealand in fourth place and the United Kingdom in 10th spot, but ahead of the United States (16) and Japan (18).

“It’s not a good look for Australia,” said Anthony Whealy, QC, the new chairman of Transparency International Australia and a former Supreme Court judge.

Mr Whealy, who presided over an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry involving former NSW Labor ministers in late 2013, said successive federal governments had been “complacent in addressing corruption” and urgent laws were required, particularly to crack down on foreign bribery.

He said there was a perception in the business community that “Australia more or less has to go along with paying bribes or large sums of money in other countries to get contracts for business purposes”.

“That complacency in the business world is really brought about by complacency at government level, where it has the capacity to introduce legislation, and indeed it’s in the course of doing it now,” Mr Whealy said.

A Senate economics references committee inquiry into foreign bribery is expected to release its report by July 1.

Mr Whealy said new laws were needed to make it a criminal offence to pay bribes to foreign governments to get contracts, as well as laws requiring companies to keep a record of all payments made.

Denmark, Finland and Sweden, which appear regularly among the “cleanest” countries, took out the top three spots in the 2015 index. North Korea and Somalia tied for the last spot.

The index does not measure actual corruption, but is a reflection of international perceptions drawn from 12 different sources including the New York-based Political Risk Services group and a survey of business executives conducted by the non-profit World Economic Forum in Geneva.

Australia has only appeared outside the top 10 on two other occasions – last year and in 1998.

Countries in the index are given a score from one (“very corrupt”) to 100 (“very clean”). Australia scored 79 points in the 2015 CPI, down from 80 points in 2014 and 81 in 2013.

View the full Corruption Perceptions Index for 2015.

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Semi-finals – implying play-off matches of equal gravitas – doesn’t really cut it as a signpost for this stage of the 2016 Australian Open.
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In another sport, they might be called major and minor semis, or heat and repechage. One features two players with a total of 27 major championships between them, the other at most Andy Murray’s two.

Thursday night’s first semi could worthily be the final; it was at the past two majors.

Friday night’s second semi – without knowing the combatants at the time of writing – could have been held over from the Kooyong Classic. Murray or no Murray, on the other side of the net will be a player ranked outside the top 10. That’s way down in Bernie Tomic territory.

Thursday’s match takes precedence chronologically, hierarchically and at the weigh-in. No tournament in this time is over until Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have played one another.

By night’s end, theirs will be the most prolific rivalry at major championships in the open era. In all tournaments, they have played 44 times, for 22 wins apiece. That’s rivalry, as distinct from what Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova share, which is more like servitude.

Djokovic has also played Rafael Nadal 47 times and Andy Murray 30 times. Federer has played scores of matches against Nadal and Murray, too. But Federer also played eight matches against Andre Agassi and even one against Pete Sampras, at Wimbledon, and beat him. That was in 2001. In 2001 Djokovic was playing under-14s.

That is the fascination about their competition and Thursday night’s match: Djokovic and Federer are peers, but not contemporaries. Djokovic is a dominant No.1 now, but so was Federer at Djokovic’s age. When Djokovic is Federer’s age, will he be in some new gang of four?

Contemplating Federer’s historic standing, some critics mark him down because he has a losing record against Nadal and a break-even record against Djokovic. That implies that, say, Rod Laver was dominant against every opponent, at all times. He wasn’t.

Federer’s is great not just because he has always been a pleasure to watch, but because he was in the mix at 21 and he still is at 34. To some minds, he is improving again, defying gravity. One such mind is Djokovic’s. He notes this new-old Federer is more intent on getting to the net, shortening rallies and games, messing with the prevailing defensive paradigm. To Djokovic, the great fidei defensor of baselines everywhere, the surveillance tapes must have been fascinating.

“He hasn’t really dropped the level at all, I think, in the last seven, eight years that I’ve been playing against him on the top level,” Djokovic said. “He’s been playing always consistently well.

“I think his backhand is better than it was maybe five, six years ago. He’s playing some terrific tennis on the hardcourt.”

Federer admits going back to go forward (or is that advancing to return to a heyday?).

“I’m playing good tennis, fun tennis for me anyway,” he said. “I really enjoy being able to come to the net more, like back in the day.”

To most on the circuit, this is the day.

Djokovic, on the face of it, has changed nothing. Confounding insanity theory, he does the same thing over and over, for an ever-improving result, not least four wins in the past six majors.

Of course, he is making adjustments and refinements all the time. One this week was to skip a day’s practice, not because his work ethic is wavering but because he is attuned to himself.

“Less is more sometimes,” he said. “You need to recognise the moment. I’ve played a lot of tennis – maybe even too much. There was no concern for me that I would not feel the ball.”

Intuitively, Djokovic should win this monster semi, by a margin. He is the better player now. His 2015 was titanic, Federer’s merely excellent. But there remains a feeling in tennis’ water that Federer has one more major left in him. If not at Wimbledon, here is as likely as anywhere.

Hence, this finale before the final, and a following quivering with anticipation. Friday night: the postscript.

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Family farewell David Petersen, who was shot by a policemen at Quakers Hill, at a funeral in Sydney’s west on Wednesday. Photo: Edwina Pickles Relatives and friends perform the haka outside David Petersen’s funeral on Wednesday. Photo: Edwina Pickles
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David Petersen was a devoted father, great brother and a man’s man who never failed to make his family laugh.

But underneath it all, Mr Petersen struggled to find peace.

A week after Mr Petersen walked into Quakers Hill Police Station with a knife and was shot dead by police, his family have farewelled the New Zealand-born father-of-four.

His children remembered their father as a best friend who taught them how to swim, ride a bike and to love unconditionally.

“You only ever loved me and I am eternally grateful for everything,” Mr Petersen’s eldest daughter told the funeral service in Minchinbury on Wednesday.

“I pray to God that you are at peace.”

On Tuesday, January 19, Mr Petersen’s children received the news that their father had been shot dead in the foyer of the police station.

Mr Petersen, known affectionately as “Uncle Dave”, parked his car outside the Lalor Road station before he walked inside with a large knife and got into a confrontation with police.

He was shot once by a sergeant with 24 years’ experience in the force.

CPR attempts were made on the 45-year-old scaffolder, who lived on nearby Highfield Road, but he died soon after.

A friend of Mr Petersen’s partner, Lisa, told the service, which spilled out of the chapel doors, that David’s painful struggle was finally over.

“… and he may finally find the peace he fought so hard to find,” she said.

His brother, Alex Petersen, said he wished his sibling could see all the people who loved him.

He described him as a great brother, provider to his family and a “man’s man”.

His sister, Tina, wrote in a letter read out to the service that Mr Petersen always made her laugh.

“Now all I do is fight back tears,” she said.

“I never did tell you how much I love you and that’s because I thought we would grow old together.”

Friends and relatives performed a moving ​haka outside the Pine Grove Memorial Park chapel before the coffin was placed into the hearse.

Minister Ken Fischer said Mr Petersen’s family knew the events on January 19 were completely out of character for him.

He said the past few months had been particularly tough for Mr Petersen, as he battled various health issues, and his family.

“He longed for peace and a way out of his troubles,” he said.

The Homicide Squad is carrying out a critical incident investigation into the shooting.

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KohliThe Australian Cricketers’ Association will seek clarification from TV networks over what constitutes acceptable player engagement during matches after the furore created by Steve Smith’s dismissal on Wednesday night.
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Channel Nine came under fire on social media with many accusing the network of being responsible for the star batsman losing his wicket in the first Twenty20 international.

The incident took another twist on Wednesday when David Warner asked why Virat Kohli did not receive more scrutiny for his feisty send off to Smith.

Smith had been doing a live interview with Channel Nine commentators Mark Nicholas, Ian Healy and Michael Hussey in the over of his dismissal but was not spoken to in the lead-up to the ball which got him out.

This is in keeping with the guidelines given to networks regarding when they can communicate with players, one of which is they cannot speak to the facing batsman while the bowler is in his approach to the crease.

It’s understood Smith does not blame the broadcaster for his wicket, which sparked a dire batting collapse that crippled Australia’s run chase. The Test and one-day international captain did not appear uncomfortable at any stage during his interview, at points even sharing a laugh with Nicholas.

The controversy comes days after a boundary-bound shot by Kohli struck Channel Nine’s Spidercam, an aerial camera, and was ruled a dead ball, costing India four runs. Indian captain M.S. Dhoni later said networks should be fined $2000 every time this occurred.

While the ACA have no qualms with the circumstances leading to Smith’s departure, the players’ union said it would seek feedback from players and speak to networks over the appropriate times they are spoken to.

“We think players have been really accommodating,” ACA chief Alistair Nicholson said.

“Being miked up, there is the right time and place to do that but there’s a greater level of feedback we need to seek from players over when that engagement is going to be acceptable.

“It’s very difficult for players in a live environment to push back on what they’ve been asked to commentate on.”

“Clearly we need to get more feedback. We’ve seen it evolve over a couple of seasons, the insight on the field is growing and growing and growing, there needs to be more work done to identify what areas can be strayed into.”

Television interaction with players in Twenty20 matches is a feature of both the Nine and Ten networks’ coverage of the format, and welcomed by viewers, who appreciate being taken inside the mind of the player in the heat of battle.

Players are not obliged to wear microphones if asked by a broadcaster and have the right to say no. No Indian player was miked up in Adelaide.

There was an instance in the Big Bash League when the Melbourne Stars’ Kevin Pietersen asked Ten’s commentary team not to speak to him until he was settled in, a wish granted by the network. He was run out moments later.

Warner said he had no problems with being connected to Channel Nine during games, nor did he feel under extra pressure.

“Not at all,” Warner said. “We’ve done that for the past couple of years. Obviously it’s not in the interests of Channel Nine to disturb us while we’re out there and for us to be dismissed.

“It’s upon us to be responsible and professional to actually understand that’s what happens out there.

“It’s about entertainment. We’ve seen it during the Big Bash, we’ve done it plenty of times through Channel Nine. It gives a great insight for people at home, to get an understanding of how we are dealing with situations when we’re out there.”

Channel Nine declined to comment.

Warner, however, could not hide his frustration when asked if he felt Australian players were judged more harshly for their on-field behaviour compared to their rivals.

“I’m going to bite my tongue on that situation,” Warner said.

“If the umpires feel they can take action they will take action. If they don’t, we’ll just sit there and take it on the chin.”

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Overseas: Molly McPhee is unavailable to play for the ACT under-20s team after signing to play with US college St Mary’s. Photo: Jamila ToderasBasketball ACT officials are confident Canberra’s absence from the under-20 female national championships will be a one-off after being forced to withdraw its team for the first time in recent history.
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As the Canberra Capitals fight through their worst season in WNBL history, a lack of players and not wanting to “make up the numbers” led to the under-20s pulling the pin.

Basketball ACT executive manager Dan Jackson confirmed the women’s team would not be part of the tournament in Ipswich next month.

However, it is sending a men’s under-20s and intellectual disability teams with the view to adding two female teams to the under-20s program next year.

“We could have sent a team just to make up numbers, but that’s not what it’s really about at a national championships,” Jackson said.

“We want to try to represent ourselves as best as we can. We thought for this year we’ll take one year off and focus on getting the group together next year and get them competitive.

“We’re certainly hoping we’ll be in a position next year to send a men’s and women’s under-20 and a men’s and women’s teams for the Ivor Burge competition.”

The Capitals have fallen from their perch as a recent WNBL powerhouse and are languishing at the bottom of the ladder after 19 consecutive defeats.

They return to the AIS Arena on Sunday for a clash against the Adelaide Lightning as they fight to end the worst losing streak in the club’s history.

Jackson is confident women’s basketball in Canberra will bounce back at a junior level, citing a strong under-18s team which will graduate to the under-20s program next year.

Two of Canberra’s best female players have also moved abroad to start college careers in the United States.

“Molly McPhee went over to St Mary’s … at that age group for us. It’s a tough age group for females for whatever reason,” Jackson said.

“But looking to the future, our under-18s team is extremely strong. It’s just a temporary mishap and definitely not for the future in the under-20s.

“Tasmania aren’t sending teams, it’s just the way it is this year.”


Sunday: Canberra Capitals v Adelaide Lightning at AIS Arena, 3pm. Tickets available at the door.

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Too much pressure on trainers and jockeys: Steve McMahon is concerned about in-the-run betting. Photo: Chris LaneA Federal Government review of online gambling has heard jockeys and trainers are concerned about the heightened integrity risks posed by after-the-jump betting as the role of in-play wagering in both sport and racing continues to come under the microscope.
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The NSW Trainers’ Association has tabled a submission to the inquiry into the antiquated Interactive Gambling Act claiming its members – as well as jockeys – had voiced concerns about the scope for criticism from in-the-run bettors.

It has been used to complement recommendations from some of the country’s top racing administrators who are wary of the integrity risk of betting during a race and the explosion of in-play wagering on heavily promoted sporting markets.

In-play betting on racing is currently considered legal.

Betting exchange Betfair has long cornered the local market allowing punters to match bets after the jump, but larger Australian corporate bookmakers such as British-owned Sportsbet and William Hill have begun to dabble in taking wagers after a race has begun.

It has prompted the NSW Trainers’ Association to write to the inquiry about fears “jockeys and trainers are under enough pressure as it is without having to deal with accusations brought about by ‘live in the run betting’ “.

“I think it just adds another element we don’t need and just poses another question over the heads of participants that is not needed,” outgoing NSW Trainers’ Association chief executive Steve McMahon said.

“There is already enough pressure on trainers and jockeys to perform as it is. When betting on the run becomes more and more prevalent it’s just another aspect of integrity you have to worry about.

“By not having it it just takes away another aspect of doubt that is passed on a trainer and jockey.”

Worldwide sports integrity officials are on red alert after recent claims that a core group of 16 players – all of whom have been ranked in the top 50 – were regularly referred to tennis governing bodies about match-fixing concerns.

Cricket authorities are also grappling with match-fixing and spot-fixing allegations as bookmakers seek to increase their ability to offer in-play betting on sporting contests that can run for several hours.

Racing’s notoriously quick nature means the opportunities for in-play betting are far less, but William Hill promoted an in-the-run service on selected races during the Melbourne spring carnival last year.

Its customers were allowed to back a runner at its fixed odds price for up to 20 to 30 seconds after a race had begun.

It’s understood executives were happy with the uptake of the service, but it is unclear whether it will return for the Sydney autumn carnival.

Sportsbet has also trialled the service with a cut-off on bets shortly after the jump.

The Australian Media and Communications Authority has asked the Australian Federal Police to review the legality of online in-play betting on sports, with some bookmakers exploiting what they say are loopholes in the law to allow wagering through smartphones.

Laws currently state that bets can only be taken over the phone or in person after a sporting event has begun.

The Federal Government is expected to rule on the controversial service’s legality in coming months.

The trainers’ submission to the IGA review also says racing will leak scores of punters to sports betting if the in-play betting laws are relaxed, in turn having the potential to cost thousands of jobs.

“The funding issue [for the racing industry] is that the more live betting there is on sport means the punting dollar will only go so far,” McMahon said. “It’s a lot easier to be live betting on a 90-minute soccer game than it is on a 90-second horse race.”

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TOBYPrice was due at a friend’s buck’s party on Friday night, but life is not quite that simple when you are Dakar Rally champion.
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IN DEMAND: Dakar Rally winner Toby Price. Picture: Getty Images

The off-road motorcycle star flew into Sydney airport yesterday afternoon, 10 days after holding up the Dakar trophy in Argentina, and into the arms of his proud parents, John and Pauline.

He hadspent the intervening week and a half in South America conducting media interviewsand in California thanking sponsors, but any chanceof returning to a normal life in Australia ended when he rode across that finish line in Rosario.

He will stay in Sydney on Thursday hosting more media inquiries,spend Friday in the Hunter then fly out on Saturday for Austria, where bike maker KTM is based.

“There’s plenty of stuff happening,” he told theHerald, with characteristic understatement, soon after touching down at Mascot.

“My plans got changed really quickly. Unfortunately I’m going to have to let one of my mates down and say we can’t make it to your buck’s, but we’ve just got to make sure we make the wedding.”

Price will attend a dinner in Austria with KTM bosses from around the world to honour him as the first Australian to win a Dakar division and the first rider to do so at their second attempt.

The Maitland rider finished a remarkable third on debut last year with a non-factory KTM team.

“They all want to celebrate the result we’ve got, because it’s something pretty special,” Price said.“It’s something that’s happened in my second year, and that doesn’t happen very often.

“It’s still sinking in. But it’s been amazing. To rock up there at the airport and there were about 50-odd people there to welcome us home. The support’s been overwhelming.It’s a dream come true. I’m stoked that all this hard work that I’ve been putting in, it’s all paid off.”

Price joins a list of global stars, including MotoGP champion Casey Stoner and supercross rider Chad Reed, who cut their teeth on the dirt tracks of the Hunter coalfields.

The former junior motocross and supercrosschampion hopes to get together with family,friends and sponsors during his brief stay in the Hunter.

“It would be amazing to see everyone and have this Dakar trophy and this part of the history of the Dakar. A lot of people haven’t held one of these trophies.

“Nobody in Australia’s held one, so I think everyone’s keen to grab a hold of it and see what it’s like.”

Asked whether he had noticed a change in the way people treated him since his Dakar triumph, Price said:“I hope that it doesn’t, because at the end of the day I’m just me.

“It’s an amazing race that I’ve won, but it doesn’t really change who I am or change my life, really.

“I’m still more determined to go back and keep winning this race now. But it’s definitely going to open some doors to some other opportunities.

“Hopefully I can have some fun while it lasts, because unfortunately racing dirt bikes it doesn’t last forever and you’ve got to grab it while you can.”

Price has taken over the mantle of Dakar star from Spaniard Marc Coma and Frenchman Cyril Despres, KTM riderswho had won every Dakar since 2005 between them.

Both have now retired from riding, and Price hopes to start his own dynasty.

“That’s always been the goal. The goal at the start was to win one, and we’ve done that. Now we’ve just got to keep picking it off, and if we end up with only one in the next 10 years, I’m still going to be pumped. I’m still going to have my name on that list and in the record books.

“The record of being the first Australian to do it is never going to be taken away from me.

“We’re going to have a big target on our back next year, that’s for sure. It never comes easy, so we’ll just do the best we can.”

Price will continue to live in Australia,but how much time he spends here will be limited by testing, training and competing in rallies throughout the world.

He will spend several months in Spain training and helping to develop a new bike, but he hopes to return for the prestigious Finke two-day desert race at Alice Springs in June.

“Australia is always home, and I love being here. As soon as I landed back in Sydney, it was a good thing to walk off that plane and be back on Aussie soil.

“It’s now going to be a lot busier than I ever thought. I thought I was busy before, but it’s now going to go through the roof.”

CAPTIVE AUDIENCE: About 100 residents turned out for the community forum to discuss the proposed council merger. Picture: Sam NorrisBEYOND the emotion of the proposed Port Stephens and Newcastle council merger lies a political challenge.
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“It’s critical that we convince the Minister for Local Government [Paul Toole] and the Premier [Mike Baird] that it’s not in our interests,” Port Stephens MP Kate Washington told disgruntled residents.

“But we also have to convince them in a political way that it’s not in their interests either.”

About 100 people turned out for the community forum on Wednesday night.

Ms Washingtonoutlined the need for people to make submissions to the merger delegate Ian Reynolds.

“If you oppose the merger you have to be active in the process outlined by government,” Ms Washington said.

“But for an effective submission it should address one or more of the criteria.

“What we as residents can really speak to is the different identities we have geographically and even spiritually.

“We can talk about how the rate rise isinequitable and [Port Stephens] council’s research will inform that.”

Councillors Geoff Dingle, Chris Doohan and Peter Kafer spoke at the meeting.

“We can’t get enough people to write submissions,” Cr Kafer said.

“Please don’t rely on your neighbours to do it.”

The meeting threatened to unravel along political lines.

Cr Dingle said it was unhelpful to talk about the review process as a fight.

“It will do more harm than good,” he said.

“I’d rather be on the inside of the tent rather than left out.”

But the deputy mayor Cr Doohan begged to differ.

“If they want a fight that’s what I’ll give them,” he said.

Port Stephens was classified fit for the future prior toDecember when the proposal was announced.

Cr John Nell said Port Stephens Council should have proposed a different merger, preferablywith Great Lakes, back in November.

“We received a letter that told council to put in their preferred bid,” he said.

“I think in many ways we were led like lemmings to the slaughter.”

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TOUGH TIME: Fans of the Newcastle Jets need to understand the challenges the club is facing, writes reader Grant Conway.
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TO all the local football experts who dissect every Jets game and vary their opinions on why we played the way we did, usually blaming the coach and players alternately–I wonder if theyunderstand how hard it is for the staff and players operating on a bargain-basement budget.

TheFFA hasa lot to answer for.

They will tell us the area is important to the big picture of the A-Leagueand football in general, but they seem happy to let us just keep plodding along, keeping us in the dark onpotential buyers and limiting our budget to enter the player market.

Has anyone heard DavidGallop speak about his vision or plan for the Jets?

Let’s be patient, hopefully a buyer is not faraway and players, staff and supporters can have a clear vision on moving forward.

Grant Conway,LambtonGive the kids a goSCOTTMiller, it’s time tomake some decisions for the team, not for under-performingindividuals.

Tell me and the rest of Newcastle whya limping Leonardo gets game time whenwe have these talented juniors such as Lundy, Cooper, Crowley and Pavicevic on the bench,denied the chance toplay in the youth team.

Putthese kids on for the rest of the season and watch them shine. Stop usinginjuredplayers who wouldn’t get a run in my over-35s team at Bero.

Allan Robinson,WarabrookShort and sweetI WOULD like to comment on the Herald Short Story competition which has beenrunning for the last couple of weeks.

Reading the stories has demoted thecrosswords into second position on my “must do” early morning tasks.

I would like to congratulate all the finalists in the competition -you all deserveto win. All the stories have an uplifting touch to them, whether they are sad orhumorous.

Well done all of you. You are all winners in my eyes.

Audrey Mayo,WallsendNot the time or placeI HADthe privilege of attending the Port Stephens citizenship ceremony on Australia Day at FlyPoint.

It was a well-organised, well-chaired ceremony as part of the broader celebrations of the day. What was disappointing and embarrassing was the way in which Port Stephens Mayor Bruce Mackenzie used his address as an opportunity to push his barrow about councilamalgamation, exhorting peoplenot to “bloody well”leave without havingsigned petitions at the named tent.

Totally inappropriate. What a poor example Mr Mackenzie set.New citizens, please stay. There are some wonderful people heading up councils all over thecountry.

Gail Crawford,MayfieldRubbishing our cityON New Year’s Day, and again the day after Australia Day,I walked outto Nobbys breakwall, the latter occasion withmany visitors from the P&O’s Pacific Aria who wereexploring this great city.

Thanks to Newcastle council for supplying garbage bins for us all to deposit our rubbish in but Iwonder why the bins can’t be emptied before they overflow down into the river and out to seawhere,according to recent reports, plastic will soon outnumber the fish.

New Year’s Day was the same.Garbage bins full to overflowing all along the riverfront.

It’s a no-brainer that given the council organised the fireworks to attract people to the foreshore,they would expect to have a job the next day cleaning up. But no, just overflowing bins.In Sydney they start cleaning up as soon as the fun finishes.But hey,let’s just throw our rubbish in the overflowing bins and let it foulourwaterways and show the visitors what we really think of our city.

Peter Sinclair, NewcastleLocked out of the looWHILE many people enjoyed themselves at Australia Day celebrations, my family andfriends have nothing but scorn for Lake Macquarie council and their lack of effort with unlockingpublic toilets.

We arrived at a popular park at Marmong Point and set up the picnic table, when onemember of the family, who uses a wheelchair or motorised cart to get around, asked to go to thenearby toilets.They were found to be locked. A phone call to the councilgot a good response from thetelephonist who took all of my details and said someone would be there to unlock the toilet soon.

Guess what? Several hours later the toilet was still locked even after several other families arrived touse the facility. So come on Lacke Macquarie councilgeneral manager Brian Bell –get a memo out to your staff and letthem know that parks in Lake Macquarie are popular places on public holidays, and toilets are anecessity, not a luxury.

Rick Johnson, EleebanaLocked out of the loo, tooI WAS amazed to find the public toilets at the bus terminus at Newcastle station locked during the day recently. I was waiting for the Port Stephens bus to take me to Newcastle Airport.

The sign on the locked waiting room door indicated that I could access the public toilets in the adjacent Shortland Park, quite some distance away. I opted forCustoms House as a closer and possibly cleaner option.I feel this does not show our city as tourist friendly. I directed several other people visiting our beautiful city to the alternative facilities during my 45-minutewait.

Sally Sullivan,BroadmeadowNation buildingBOTH Sydney and Newcastle harbour looked great on Australia Day.If Arthur Phillip hadnot decided to start a colony atSydney harbour in 1788, it would today look like it did 40,000 years ago.

My ancestors arrived in 1791 and 1802 and did notconquer anyone. They were “stolen” from their parents aged 14 and 20 years and forced tocome to Australia.

Their crimes – catching a fish and not going to church. Despite this theyhave helped make a great nation. Without them and thousands of others,Australiamay not be free but occupied by French, Russians or Japanese.I do not feelmore Australianthan those who took citizenship oaths on Australia Day. We are one nation, one people.

I do,however, resent those who think that ancestry and a non-Australian flag give them a claim onour country.

James Carney,Merewether

Shark attacks, while rare, are an emotive topic. Photo: Max Mason Hubers MMH Mick Fanning’s unforgettable encounter. Photo: Association of Surfing Professionals
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A spear fisher wearing a Shark Shield device. Photo: Shark Shield

Shark repellents: the answer to a jaws-free summer holiday?

A spate of attacks on Northern NSW beaches late last year, not to mention dramatic footage of pro surfer Mick Fanning punching a shark in the nose in South Africa, has sparked much debate over the best means of deterring attacks.

While state governments are forking out millions on beach-wide strategies, individuals now have reassurance about what they are buying when it comes to personal deterrents, thanks to an independent study by Choice.

Out of several products it surveyed, the consumer advocacy group said a device called Shark Shield, which uses electrical pulses to overwhelm sensory receptors in a shark’s nostrils, is the only one “independently shown to be effective at deterring sharks from biting”.

Shark Shield emits an electrical field from a two metre-long cord which is attached to and trails behind a device worn on the ankle.

The pulses flood the shark’s electrical sensors – called ampullae of Lorenzini – causing them to spasm uncomfortably so the shark turns away.

Shark Shield managing director Lindsay Lyon said it was good news the device had now been recognised by the consumer group.

“It’s very difficult to convince consumers that you can stop something the size of a car coming at you at 40km an hour,” he said.

“We’ve now got three pieces of independent scientific research and a consumer advocacy group who say to consumers there is an effective product on the market, so take a look,” he said.

Choice examined a range of personal shark deterrents including electrical, magnetic and acoustic repellents; repellent sprays; and visual options like changing the pattern of a wetsuit.

Choice spokesperson Tom Godfrey warned consumers that “marketing sharks” was the real predator.

“There was a feeding frenzy around shark attacks and it’s clear that marketing was targeting consumers with dubious offerings,” Mr Godfrey said.

“We wanted to see which [products] have the science behind them.”

Mr Godfrey said while the Shark Shield – which can also be fitted to surfboards and kayaks – could deter a shark from attacking, it wouldn’t do so every time.

“I don’t think any [of the devices on the market] are perfect and certainly your best defense against being attacked by a shark is to stay out of the water,” he said.

An abalone diver told Choice he knew of two people who had been attacked while wearing a Shark Shield.

In assessing the products, Choice examined existing research on Shark Shield including a University of Western Australia study which found the device had prevented some – but not all – great white and tiger shark attacks. Earlier research from the South Australian Research and Development Institute showed similar results.

Shark Shield’s Mr Lyon said people needed to realise there was “not a safety product in the world in any category that is 100 per cent effective”.

He compared Shark Shield with bike helmets or seat belts, describing it as a tool that surfers or divers who were most at risk of attack could use for peace of mind.

“If you would like to reduce risk, there is technology that will reduce that risk,” he said.

Bob Lushey, managing director of Radiator, whose camouflage wet suits were also reviewed by Choice, said there was a place for all shark deterrent products on the market.

Radiator’s wet suit design used the “simple logic” of sharks’ colour perception to minimise attacks without the need for extra equipment, he said.

Independent testing of the repellent wetsuits’ effectiveness is still under way.

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