Te’o waits for the phone call he thought would never come

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As former Queensland State of Origin star Ben Te’o waits for the phone call on Thursday which will reportedly confirm his shock selection in Warren Gatland’s 40-man British and Irish Lions squad to tour New Zealand, he would be well advised to reflect on just how fast his star has risen since switching codes in the wake of winning the 2014 NRL Premiership with the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

After a successful league career with the Wests Tigers, Brisbane Broncos and then Souths, seven Origin appearances and a Rugby League World Cup cameo for Samoa, the Auckland-born star opted to head to Irish province Leinster to try his hand at rugby a little under three years ago.

Now at English Premiership strugglers Worcester, the centre has made eight appearances in the white jersey of Eddie Jones’ England, albeit only chalking up a solitary start – in an untidy victory over Italy which was mired by the home side’s legal, yet controversial no-ruck tactics.

Having qualified for the national side via his English mother, Te’o earned a deserved reputation as an aptly named impact player, coming off the bench with marked success as Jones’s side retained their Six Nations title.

However, it is not a label that sits comfortably with the 30-year-old Lion-in-waiting: “It’s not something I like doing,” he told England’s Times newspaper.

“I’ve never liked not starting a game. When you’re in a training camp with England, it’s such an intense environment and you put a lot into the training. Then it comes to game day and you only get 20 minutes …”

“You don’t want to say, ‘I’m an impact player.’ I’d never want to say that” he added.

He may be typecast, but it is this reputation which will see the rookie picked ahead of eminent centres including compatriot Jonathan Joseph, Ireland’s Jared Payne and Garry Ringrose, Scotland’s Huw Jones and Wales’ Scott Williams.

“You play whatever role you’re given,” he said. “But you can start to be seen as a certain type. You play for 20 minutes and feel like you’ve got so much more to give.”

Previously, Te’o had spoken cooly on the subject of the Lions, suggesting that not even he believed his career would lead him to the storied shirt so late in his career – and so soon after his switch: “I know the significance of the Lions but I can’t say I grew up wanting to be a British Lion,” he told the Times.

The subject of a fierce tug-of-war between Ireland, England and , Te’o eventually opted to swap Leinster for Worcester and throw his hat into the ring for a shot under Jones – and the gamble has paid off handsomely.

“I’d had meetings with [ head coach] Michael Cheika, and going back there was a possibility,” he said. “Eddie said he could only pick players who play in the Premiership but, if I came over here and played good rugby, he’d have a look at me. I just chose what felt right.”

The popular centre says he was inspired to widen his horizons after watching his former Broncos teammate – and one-time flatmate Israel Folau – swap league for AFL, and then rugby.

“However successful people say Israel was in AFL, in his head he was successful,” Te’o said. “He gave it a go and the most important thing was that he learnt a lot about himself along the way. You’ve got to challenge yourself sometimes and I wanted to do that.”

When Te’o answers the call on Thursday, he will join the ranks of such luminaries as Jack ‘Iron Man’ Matthews, Mike Gibson, Jeremy Guscott, Jamie Roberts and Brian O’Driscoll.

Perhaps more importantly, he will achieve what many thought 2014 Premiership-winning teammate Sam Burgess might, and rubber-stamp a successful conversion to the code. Big shout out to this bloke, when I first thought about going to Rugby Union he was the first guy to tell me I could make it. Told me it wasn’t too late to learn, that I had the talent, just to back myself. And two and a bit years later we are playing a test match against each other.A post shared by Ben Te’o (@ben.teo) on Dec 6, 2016 at 10:25pm PST

ADVERTISING FEATURE: City fires up for visitor

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SAILING INTO TOWN: HMAS Newcastle and her crew will play a pivotal role in Anzac Day centenary celebrations this year.GUIDED missile frigate HMAS Newcastle will fire a seven-gun salute tomorrow afternoon as she sails for the last time into her namesake port.

Fort Scratchley will welcome the ship with a salute from its No.2 Mk.7 gun before the HMAS Newcastle replies with a salvo from its ceremonial deck gun.

The arrival marks the start of a busy few days of activities for the ship’s captain and crew.

From 10am Monday, the vessel’s full complement of 184 servicemen and women will take part in a Freedom of Entry march through the city.

The march will start at Perkins Street before proceeding along Hunter Street, turning onto Darby Street and then onto King Street before ending at Civic Park.

HMAS Newcastle commanding officer Commander Mark Sirois said the march was “a fitting honour” for the crew and city prior to the ship’s decommissioning.

“Newcastle is our home port and our namesake city, and the Freedom of Entry is an old tradition that creates an even greater bond,” he said.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, who will inspect the crew and preside over the march, said HMAS Newcastle and her crew had maintained close ties with Newcastle since her launch in 1992.

“HMAS Newcastle personnel have regularly taken part in Anzac Day marches and other military ceremonies in the city and they have welcomed thousands of Novocastrians for open days during the ship’s many visits. But equally important is their ongoing charity work with local organisations in need.”

The ship’s crew will be among an estimated 800 current and former servicemen and women and their families taking part in the city’s main Anzac Day march through Newcastle to Civic Park.

Also during the visit, a troop of 100 Scouts from the Hunter and Manning regions will be given an exclusive tour of the vessel.

HMAS Newcastle has been deployed on various military and peace-keeping roles throughout the Pacific and Persian Gulf areas and will continue on operational taskings and exercises throughout 2018 prior to her decommissioning in 2019.

NHRU: Wells heads list of internationals leading the way for Newcastle University

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STAR ATTRACTION: New Zealand fly-half Dan Wells is one of six overseas recruits at University. The 26-year-old Northland sevens star plans to make Newcastle his permanent home. Picture: James GardinerDAN Wells was in need of a change. New town. New rugby environment.

A Kiwi, he had just represented Northland at the national sevens championships –the platform from which the New Zealand squad for the IRB world sevens circuit is selected.

There was talk of a place in the Northland ITM Cup program but Wells had heard that line before.

He looked at an opportunity in Ireland before Newcastle University entered the equation.

Wells is one of sixinternationals recruited by the Students through the support of the McCloy Group.

The 26-year-old didn’t just pack a bag and jump on a plane.He and partner, Steph Haynes, sold their house in Whangarei, where he was a builder, and relocated stock, lock and barrelto Newcastle.

“It was a bit of a gamble,” Wells said. “We have fallen in love with Newcastle. It is easy to get around andthe beaches are beautiful. We plan to settle down here.”

Apart from Wells, hooker Luke Harwood (Wales), No.8 Jack Cooke (Ireland), centresFausto Carpini (Argentina) and Nelson Gomes (France) and halfback Gianluca Naldi (Italy) are foreigners.

Gomes scored a try and Wells (conversion) and Naldi(penalty) also scoredin the Students’ 20-16 win over Nelson Bay.

“You can see that everyone has skill, but we all have different styles and techniques,” Wells said.“It is taking time for us to gel. By about round three we should be close.”

Wells has played mainly at 12 or 15 in recent seasons but has been handed the job of running the team at fly-half.

“We have a few boys whose English is not that great and they want someone to control the game,” he said. The video clips they saw of me weremainly playing fullback. I enjoy kicking but counter attacking is my strength.Uni have a few boys who can play 15 and they really want me to settle in as a number 10.”

Wells was born in Gisborne and went to noted Auckland rugby academy,Manurewa High School, where he played in the first XV aged 15.He represented Northern Region Maori colts (under-20s) and was picked up by Northland.

Younger brothers Henare, 24, and Dallas, 22, are talented rugby league players. They grew up on the Gold Coast with their fatherand attended Keebra Park High School. Henare played under-20s at the Sydney Roosters and was at the Warriors last year. Dallas played under-20s at Cronulla.

“Theyhave done well in league, but I can still handle them,” he laughed.

Next for the Students are Lake Macquarie.

“I’m used toto playing physical teams back home,” he said.“Club rugby here is pretty strong. From what I’m told wehave a lot more experience this year whichgives the young boys confidence.”

Salim Mehajer swore false affidavit, ordered to pay cleaner $25,000

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Salim Mehajer gave “implausible evidence” and swore a false affidavit as he attempted to avoid paying $25,000 to a cleaner for work done in a western Sydney apartment block, a court has found.
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The controversial former deputy mayor of Auburn has been ordered to pay Anping Yan the outstanding debt as well as costs and interest after the cleaner successfully sued him.

Mr Yan sued Mr Mehajer in the Downing Centre Local Court, claiming he was not paid for cleaning the apartment block on John Street, Lidcombe, between September 2013 and July 2014.

Mr Mehajer argued he was not liable for the debt because, in September 2011, his company SM Project Developments subcontracted out the cleaning work to Downtown Project Developments, run by his sister Fatima Mehajer.

Mr Mehajer denied engaging Mr Yan in a personal capacity and only ever spoke to Mr Yan in his capacity as a director of SM Project Developments, which went into liquidation in February 2013.

He also denied that Mr Yan carried out the cleaning work.

However, magistrate Jennifer Atkinson found Mr Yan had proved, on the balance of probabilities, that he had entered into a contract with Mr Mehajer in circumstances in which Mr Mehajer was acting as an agent for Downtown.

Ms Atkinson said the evidence showed Mr Yan carried out the cleaning work and Mr Mehajer and Downtown failed to pay.

During a hearing in January, the court heard Mr Mehajer had sworn an affidavit that listed him as the sole director of Downtown.

But in cross-examination, he admitted he was banned from acting as a director and was not, in fact, a director of Downtown. He explained it away as a “typographical error”.

Ms Atkinson said it “necessarily raises concerns about his attention to detail as in that affidavit he was swearing that the allegations of fact contained in [his] defence were true”.

She found his evidence in many instances was “implausible”. She said his inability to recall a conversation in which he told Mr Yan he would be receiving about $72,000 from the strata company managing the John Street development was “interesting”, given he was apparently able to recall giving Mr Yan an explanation of the structure of the group of companies.

“I find it implausible that in the course of negotiating what would have a been a relatively straightforward cleaning contract, Mr Mehajer would attempt to explain the complex corporate structure of his group of companies to someone with a limited grasp of English or that Mr Yan would understand what he was apparently being told,” Ms Atkinson said.

Further, she found that Ms Mehajer “had a poor recollection of a great deal of what occurred around the relevant time”.

Neither sibling adduced any documentary or independent evidence to support their version of events including accounting records and their evidence was “vague”, the magistrate said.

Chinese-born Mr Yan has poor English skills and was assisted in court by an interpreter, although Ms Atkinson found he was making a genuine attempt to give honest answers.

Mr Mehajer, disqualified from managing corporations until November 2018, is facing charges over alleged electoral fraud offences.

He is also due in court next week charged with assaulting a Seven News reporter after earlier allegedly assaulting a taxi driver at the Star casino in the early hours of April 2.

Mr Mehajer shot to public attention following his lavish wedding to wife Aysha April Learmonth in 2015. The couple are now estranged.

The ultimate weekend away in the NT

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This article is sponsored byTourism NT
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When it comes to a weekend getaway, predictable choices can include overrun cosmopolitan epicentres like Sydney or Melbourne, or bustling touristydestinations like Byron Bay or the Gold Coast.

But if your idea of the perfect weekend getaway includes spectacular natural wonders, friendly and obliging locals, fresh-of-the-boat seafood and a sub-tropical climate all year ‘round, think Darwin.

Darwin is a bright and vibrant alternative to typically overrun getaway destinations

In recent years Darwin and surrounding areas have enjoyed huge growth, now serving up a platter of luxury accommodation, exquisite food and drinks, a huge range of nature adventures and a rolling calendar of activities like markets, festivals and live music.

But despite this bubbling melting pot of sights, sounds and tastes, Darwin somehow still retains its welcoming small town vibe – and the locals are only too proud to show you around their truly unique city.

Sounding irresistible? Here is your itinerary for the ultimate weekend getaway in the warm and inviting Northern Territory.

SkyCity’s pool is the perfect place to cool off and relax

Stay at SkyCity Darwin, a sprawling luxury resort that is a casino, accommodation and convention centre in one. Located one minute’s walk from the beach and equipped with two pools, five bars (including a swim up bar) and a spa and wellness centre, SkyCity is the perfect relaxing backdrop for the excitement of the CBD.

A quick breakfast at The Vue is in order before heading into the city

Have a light breakfast at SkyCity’s The Vue restaurant before venturing five minutes drive to Darwin CBD to wander through Centennial Park on the esplanade.

Lunch aboard a Cape Adieu Harbour cruise is the best way to tingle the senses around the stunning coast of Darwin. Enjoy local seafood like Northern Territory banana prawns and smoked Spanish mackerel with bush spice, myrtle and black pepper to the soundtrack of the lapping waves.

Enjoy locally caught seafood as you cruise Darwin’s harbour

Spend the afternoon admiring the splendour of Framed Art Gallery, one of the largest galleries in . The gallery holds a rich collection of fine art carefully crafted by Darwin locals, including paintings, jewellery, glassware and much more.

Framed Gallery is full of treasures

Dinner at chef-hatted restaurant Evoo located in SkyCity Darwin is one of those dining experiences that you’ll talk about for days afterward. Offering sweeping views of the Darwin CBD and Arafura Sea, Evoo’s menu boasts fresh, local and seasonal produce with a Mediterranean twist, creating a signature culinary style. Highly recommended is the degustation menu which is matched with a curated list of local and international wines.

Enjoy locally caught seafood at Restaurant Evoo

After dinner, check out Deck Chair Cinema, Darwin’s open air cinematic experience overlooking Darwin Harbour – with a spectacular starry sky backdrop. Nights in Darwin are always warm and inviting, and the cinema’s program is an eclectic mix of Hollywood blockbusters and avant-garde cult flicks.

Sit back and relax in the warm evening while you enjoy the latest flick

Enjoy breakfast at The Vue before seeing Darwin from great heights in a helicopter with Airborne Solutions. Take in the magnificent coast on a 40-minute helicopter ride west along the white sands of Wagait beach all the way to Charles Point Lighthouse and back over the magnetic termite mounds.

Darwin from above is a spectacular sight. Image source: Darwin Convention Centre

Sit down for lunch at Char Darwin, encased in pristine white walls and solid hardwood flooring or outside under the lantern-filled canopy of trees while fine-dining staff predict your every need. The a la carte menu includes Tasmanian chilli mussels and Northern Territory barramundi fillet, or on-the-land offerings like a succulent Wagyu rump cap or rack of lamb with pea, spinach and fetta tortellini.

Char Darwin is a chic dining experience

Spend the afternoon wandering through The George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, which cover 42 hectares of land and are bursting with a unique collection of north n and other tropical species of flora. The lush green and vibrant unexpected colours are the perfect backdrop for your lazy afternoon.

Hocus Pocus by Jody Jackson

Finish your weekend with a wander down to Mindil Beach Sunset Markets for a rich collection of local art, craft, fashion and food, and enjoy the husky reds, oranges and golds from the sunset from the sandy shore as you come down from a great 48 hours spent up north.

Sunset at Mindil Sunset Markets

Flights to Darwin start at $49 flying Jetstar from the major cities.

This article is sponsored by Tourism NT

Large shark accidentally captured on video at Warrnambool breakwater

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The shock visitor at Warrnambool’s breakwater.A large shark was spottedclose to children swimming in Warrnamboolon Monday.
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A woman onholidays in Victoria’s south-west captured incredible footage of theshark near Warrnambool’s breakwater by accident on Monday afternoon.

Carla Charlton, from the Mornington Peninsula, said she stopped for lunch in Warrnambool with her family when she started filming a seal she spotted with her daughter.

“Iheard this seal barking so we went down to have a look at the seal and I started to takevideoof a seal in the water,” she said.

Large shark accidentally captured on videohttps://nnimgt-a.akamaihd苏州夜场招聘/transform/v1/crop/frm/sian.johnson/e23f5f16-e7d3-484e-8034-90b889f24dfd.JPG/r46_0_485_248_w1200_h678_fmax.jpgVIC: A woman who filmed a shark at least two metres long in Warrnambool said it was a “fluke”.shark, warrnambool2017-04-19T15:21:00+10:00https://players.brightcove苏州夜场招聘/3879528182001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5402857844001https://players.brightcove苏州夜场招聘/3879528182001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5402857844001Large shark captured on video in Warrnambool“I kept the video going to capture the seal and then these two fins poppedup out of the water.

“Initially I thought it was two separatefish, then Ithought ‘no that’sa shark,that’s two fins off the same fish’.

“I just kept taking the video because Ithought ‘there’sa shark here’ and I couldn’t believe it.”

Ms Charlton said after the shark was spotted someone raced down and told some kids to get out of the water because they were jumping off the pier.

Shedescribed capturing the moment as a “fluke”.

EARLIER: People are being warned to be careful entering the water around Warrnambool’s Lady Bay after multiple sightings of a shark believed to be at least two metres in length.

Warrnambool Surf Life Saving Club captain David Owen said there had been “a lot” ofreports about one particular shark spotted on Monday afternoon.

“Just be wary,” Mr Owen said.

He said he issued the warning because“too many people had seen it” and multiple people said it was a white pointer, also known as a great white shark.

The shark was spotted near the breakwater prior to 4pm on Monday afternoon, and Warrnambool’s main beach was closed for two hours as a precaution.

Mr Owensaid he would advise against swimming in the middle of thebay or near the breakwater.

Recreational fisherman Daniel Hainey said he saw the shark from the breakwater sometime after 3.30pm, and it had been briefly tangled in his line.

“Basically there was a boat (that) came in here and had a seal follow it,” he said.

“The boat has pulled out of the water, the seal has gone away –so we thought – then we heard some kids on the pier screaming out toeach other from one side to the other.

“Ithought they were talking about the seal again and not long after saw the shark come up right along the side of the pier here.”

Fisheries Victoria director of education and enforcement Ian Parks said it was not unusual for sharks to be around, and advised people to follow the shark smart safety tips.

“People are more aware sharks are out there but there’s no evidence there’s actually an increase in sharks,” Mr Parks said.

“They’vealways been there and always will and the risk of shark attacks are very low compared to other risks likedriving your car.”

“Sharks are around,” Mr Parks said.“With the new Vic Emergency appit’s a great way of peoplefinding out whether there’s any sightings.”

The safety tips include:

Keep informed by checking the VicEmergencywebsite or app.If you see a shark report it to the police or at a patrolledbeach to lifesavers on the ground.Swim between the flags where possible and obey any beach closures put in place.Try to avoid swimming where waste enters the water.Don’t swim if you’ve got bleedingwounds.Don’t swim if you see large schools of bait fish, particularlyif they are behaving erratically.The Standard, Warrnambool

How Fate of the Furious became a global box office phenomenon

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???It was a weekend where the threat of nuclear war hung heavily over the world. And at the centre of tensions was a flaxen-haired American megalomaniac.
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If you went to the cinema just about anywhere, chances are you’ll recognise this is what happens in The Fate Of The Furious.

Charlize Theron???, as a coolly evil villain who circles the globe in an undetectable private jet, hatches a plan to steal a nuclear weapon to use against the superpowers.

Rarely has a movie so dominated the world’s cinemas at any one time as the eighth instalment in the Fast and the Furious series.

At the risk of sounding like you’ve inhaled the fumes from the scores of high-octane cars roaring across the screen, it took a staggering$US532.5 million ($702 million) as it smashed the record for biggest global opening weekend. It was No.1 at the box office in all 64 international territories it opened in.

So how does a seventh sequel do so well? And could it possibly deserve to sell more tickets than Star Wars: The Force Awakens and other better-reviewed blockbusters?

What started out as a series about street racing has turned into a Bond movie by a different name.

It has exotic locations in Cuba, Berlin, New York and Russia. A supervillain named Cipher who wants world domination. High-tech references to EMP devices, nuclear footballs, cyber terrorism and a global surveillance system.

Implausible stunts including – spoiler alert for anyone yet to catch it – cars being harpooned, cars raining down on city streets after their computer guidance systems have been hijacked and cars being chased across the ice by a nuclear submarine. Yes, there are a lot of cars.

Cartoonish international politics including an attack on a Cold War submarine base. And a villain so powerful even real-life hacking group Anonymous won’t dice with her.

With a casual disdain for logic and physics, rapper Chris Bridges is not the only thing that’s “Ludacris” in the movie. Two scenes have characters on opposite sides of thick high-security glass miraculously exchanging threats at length without the need for an intercom.

If being a car chase movie isn’t enough, Fate of the Furious is also every other kind of action movie. A cyberthriller with a bomb that has to be disconnected before the counter hits zero. A prison escape movie. A plane heist movie. A two-buddies-on-opposite-sides-face-off movie. A submarine movie. A zombie car movie. And, after all the damage, a movie about family being what really matters.

It features just about every action movie star from Vin Diesel and The Rock down to, well, Helen Mirren.

While much of the dialogue appears to have been typed with a shovel, there is something gloriously, crazily entertaining about the whole fuel-injected package.

Its success owes a lot to the brilliant way n director James Wan handled the real-life death of star Paul Walker in the previous instalment, giving it a heart that elevated the series.

It’s also a triumph of marketing with the super-slick trailer chalking up 139 million views in the first 24 hours.

The filmmakers – with F. Gary Gray from Straight Outta Compton now making Straight Outta The Garage – also know their audience. The story is so well-flagged and the acting so big that non-English-speaking audiences will have no trouble keeping up.

And the multi-racial cast has always been key to the series’ appeal to a young ethnically diverse audience. According to Box Office Mojo, American viewers were 41 per cent Caucasian, 26 per cent Hispanic, 19 per cent African American and 11 per cent Asian on the weekend. While cinema-goers were largely male – no surprise given the series is known for gratuitous shots of skimpily-dressed women – the movie still had enough crossover appeal to be 42 per cent female.

A teenage boy sitting next to me in the cinema positively gurgled at times. The formula – putting the “car” into carnage and taking the “act” out of action movie – is working.

Twitter @gmaddox

Family still wait for answers a year after son’s death

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Josh Park-Fing who was killed on the Work for the Dole scheme in 2016. Photo Supplied. Story Anna Patty Photo: Supplied
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On the one-year anniversary of 18-year-old son Joshua Park-Fing’s death, his parents are still waiting for answers to how it happened on a Work for the Dole site.

Josh died on April 19 last year after falling from a flatbed trailer towed by a tractor on a Work for the Dole site in Toowoomba.

His father, Iain Park, told Fairfax Media he has been struggling to come to terms with his son’s death and hopes that safety lessons can be learned to help prevent the same thing from happening again.

“At the end of the day, I would just like the answers and the truth and God willing, it will lead to it never happening again,” Mr Park said.

The Unemployed Workers Union, which has been campaigning for the Work for the Dole program to be scrapped, has written to the federal government asking it to release the results of investigations into Mr Park-Fing’s death.

“For the sake of Josh’s family and all participants in the Work for the Dole program, we call on the government to promptly release this information,” the UWU letter said.

“The government has a responsibility to minimise risks to participants in this and other employment programs.”

Josh left behind his parents, a twin brother Jayden, two other brothers Matthew and Lachlyn and a sister Jemma.

“I never had a chance to see my 18-year-old boy grow up and get married and have kids,” Mr Park said.

He said he still has no answers from an investigation into Josh’s death.

“At the end of the day we just need the truth,” he said. “I’m still baffled about why this happened. I can’t figure out why the report has been withheld.

“The bottom line is we all deserve answers. If we don’t get the correct answers how do we know what needs to change and how to change it?”

Mr Park hopes the investigation into his son’s death helps to improve the safety of other Work for the Dole participants.

“Dreamworld changed its policies after there was an accident – why didn’t that happened when Josh died?” he said.

Speaking on behalf of Josh’s mother, Jenny Fing, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers principal Peter Koutsoukis said he was still waiting for answers.

“Sadly a year after the tragic death of her son Joshua, our client is still no closer to having any answers as to what caused his death,” Mr Koutsoukis said.

“Mrs Fing rightfully expected a timely investigation would have been undertaken into this matter.

“Disappointingly, however, that has not occurred, despite our repeated requests for information on the investigation on her behalf. This includes recently writing to the federal Minister for Employment, Michaelia Cash.

“On this first anniversary of Joshua’s death, we again call on the relevant agencies to release the findings of this investigation as soon as possible, to provide much-needed closure for Mr Park-Fing’s family and to help ensure that lessons can be learned as to what caused his death and to prevent future incidents.”

Federal Labor spokesman for employment services and workforce participation Ed Husic said the Turnbull government needed to release its internal review into the incident, or at least explain to the public what it has done to improve workplace safety in the program.

“Under the Turnbull government Work for the Dole is failing, with 90 per cent of participants not securing full-time work after finishing the program. At a time when youth unemployment is at record highs, young ns deserve better,” Mr Husic said.

Senator Cash said the investigation into Mr Park-Fing’s death was ongoing.

“Workplace Health and Safety Queensland continues to investigate this incident,” she Cash said.

“The government will not risk compromising this investigation by releasing the report prematurely.

“Given that the Labor Party is aware of this situation, I would be deeply concerned if it was attempting to politicise the tragic death of Mr Park-Fing.”

Furious netball superstars threaten rebel league, strike, Diamonds boycott

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Read the players’ letter here
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‘s best netballers are threatening strike action this weekend, a Super Netball breakaway to form a rebel competition and a boycott of Diamonds games for the rest of the year unless the state associations re-elect threatened board member Kathryn Harby-Williams at Friday’s Netball annual general meeting.

As the political divisions within the sport became public following the dumping of highly credentialed former board chair Anne-Marie Corboy at a special general meeting called by the member organisations last week, the n Netball Players’ Association strongly condemned the treatment of Corboy as “an inexcusable lack of judgment that only serves to satisfy self-interest”.

Following a 90-minute telephone hook-up on Tuesday involving multiple representatives from all eight Super Netball Clubs, the ANPA then forwarded a scathing letter to Netball chair Paolina Hunt to be distributed to all member associations and delegates before the AGM in Canberra. Part of the letter signed today by the biggest names in the sport

Harby-Williams, a former n captain, is – with Cheryl McCormack – one of two current directors seeking re-election, and among five candidates for three vacancies, including Corboy’s. It is believed that Netball Queensland and Netball NSW are two of the state bodies refusing to vote for the respected and experienced Harby-Williams as part of a power play aimed at returning more clout to the disgruntled member organisations.

The ANPA letter said “… it is a non-negotiable position that Kathryn Harby-Williams be re-elected to the board with the overwhelming support of all MOs and delegates,” describing the 47-year-old as clearly the best qualified of a group completed by former indigenous star Marcia Ella-Duncan, Susan Comerford and Jan Magaccis.

“Failure to re-elect Harby-Williams will see the players lose complete confidence in the people entrusted to select the board of NA,” the ANPA letter continues. “It would demonstrate that those with the responsibility of electing the board are more interested in selecting well-meaning individuals who contribute little, over people who have the necessary skills, knowledge and expertise to take the sport forward.”

The letter said that failure to endorse Harby-Williams would result in players meeting to discuss the future of Super Netball, including round nine this weekend, a protest that “may involve industrial action”. It is also believed that some netballers are pushing to boycott all matches against the Netball Queensland-operated club, the Firebirds.

“Additionally, no player will be available to represent the n Diamonds for the remainder of the year, until the n Sports Commission expresses their confidence and satisfaction that the board is truly independent and capable of acting in the best interests of the sport and not representative groups that have both a real and perceived conflict of interest.

“The players have instructed their representative body, ANPA, that if Harby-Williams is not reappointed to explore all options to create a rebel league that has no involvement of MOs. If MOs and the delegates do not vote to support the re-election of Harby-Williams then ANPA will actively support and promote election campaigns of current and past members to immediately challenge the boards of MOs.

“MOs that have been actively running a campaign against Harby-Williams will find that ANPA will actively encourage athletes not to re-sign with that team; and if asked will engage legal advice so as they can terminate multi-year contracts.

“Finally, the players are dismayed that the attack on the independence of the NA board is again being led by MOs that during recent collective agreement negotiations aggressively and purposely sought to suggest that if pregnancy rights and provisions were provided into the agreement then the athletes would see it as an opportunity to have a ‘holiday/break’ at the expense of those MOs.”

The letter is signed by two players from each club, including Magpies Madi Robinson and Sharni Layton and Vixens Kate Moloney and Tegan Philip, as well as ANPA directors Bianca Chatfield and Jean-Paul Blandthorn. The n Sports Commission, which provides annual funding of $3 million, has advised Netball in writing of its governance obligations and expectations of directorial independence.

Chatfield emphasised that these were not idle threats, and that the players were appalled that the eastern seaboard expansion to include teams owned by Collingwood (Magpies Netball) and the Melbourne Storm (Sunshine Coast Lightning) and one owned by Netball NSW but aligned to GWS Giants in the revamped national league had not been embraced by the state associations attempting to control the NA board.

“It does come down to the change in the netball landscape, especially for all the teams on the eastern side of . I think the girls can fight it all out on court, but off the court I don’t know why the teams can’t work together,” said Chatfield, a former Diamonds vice-captain.

“There just seems to be this real bitterness around the member organisations not having a say on the teams coming into their homeland, now that they have to share sponsorship and they have to fight for members, fight for players.

“In a positive mindset you go ‘great, let’s move this momentum forward together and work together to create something even bigger for our sport’. Instead we’re getting caught up on all the little things, and the threats, rather than seeing what the opportunities are.

“I think we can learn so much from other professional sports, and that’s why it’s great that you’ve got now a Collingwood Football Club involved, a Melbourne Storm involved. They’re clubs that have been successful and we need to learn from them which we potentially won’t have that opportunity if it goes back to the member organisations having control.”

The Diamonds, the reigning World Cup and Commonwealth Games champions, are due to play a series of Test matches later this year as well as the annual Fast5 World Series in Melbourne in November.

Cummins the big winner in CA contract list

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Pace ace Pat Cummins is set to complete a major comeback and be one of the big winners when Cricket releases its latest round of player contracts.
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CA selectors and management will release what industry insiders expect to be a 20-man list by April 30, this coming at a time when CA’s general manager of team performance, Pat Howard, is close to announcing his own future.

Fairfax Media can reveal Cummins has vaulted into the top six of rankings, and is possibly behind only Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

Cummins, 24 in May, has finally been able to take to the field consistently after a series of back stress fractures and he shapes as an enforcer and genuine match-winner in this summer’s Ashes series.

Six years after his first Test, he returned to the Test team on the recent tour of India, claiming eight wickets at 30.25 and bowling with considerable pace upon being drafted in for the third and fourth Tests.

He had a CA contract last summer but is now a fixture in the sport’s three formats. He has risen in the rankings to become one of ‘s prime movers, ensuring a payday of more than $1 million a year.

Cummins is also likely to be play a key role in the battle for the Champions Trophy in England in June, with the n squad to be named on Thursday.

Former n batsman David Hussey, who was promoting the tournament in Melbourne on Wednesday, said Cummins was a strike weapon.

“It’s amazing how he has come back – he has bowled fast, he fields very well and he bats quite well, too,” he said.

Skipper Smith and vice-captain Warner – having made about $2 million in the past year from international cricket – and fast bowlers Starc and Hazlewood will almost certainly be the top four ranked players.

Starc is on the mend from a foot fracture which forced him home midway through the Indian tour and is expected to be named in the Champions Trophy squad, but will need to pass a fitness test next month.

Batting all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, playing in the three formats having returned to the Test side in India, is also set to pocket a healthy raise.

Wicketkeeper Matthew Wade was not one of the 20 players awarded a CA contract this time last year, with Peter Nevill the only gloveman. But Wade enjoyed an upgrade when Nevill was axed and is likely to be the only gloveman on a list that can hold between 17 and 20 players.

Opening batsman Matthew Renshaw and middle-order dasher Peter Handscomb – both having impressed as part of a rebooted Test side – will be two of the fresh faces, and are likely to replace George Bailey and Joe Burns.

Left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe, who has again found himself in trouble after a night of heavy drinking, was also upgraded over summer but may again have to work for a contract under a “horses-for-courses” policy, despite a tour of Bangladesh slated for August.

Bangladesh officials continue to insist the tour must go ahead, despite CA’s preference for it to become only a one-day series and be delayed until October to work in with a one-day series in India.

Fast bowler James Pattinson, continuing his comeback in English county cricket, will retain his contract but fellow quicks Nathan Coulter-Nile, John Hastings, Peter Siddle and Jackson Bird, the latter having won an upgrade over summer, are jostling for probably three spots. There is speculation Queensland quick Billy Stanlake, having won selection in the one-day team last summer, could be the bolter.

Despite being on the long-term injury list because of a shoulder problem, Mitch Marsh is set to retain his contract. But industry insiders have questioned whether brother Shaun Marsh should remain part of selectors’ plans.

It’s understood the South n Cricket Association is hopeful leg-spinner Adam Zampa and all-rounder Travis Head are rewarded, with Head a chance to replace the retired Adam Voges.

The minimum value of a CA contract last summer was $270,000, with any player upgraded through the summer, having earned 12 upgrade points, given a base salary of $230,000.

This will rise when the stoush over a new memorandum of understanding between CA and the n Cricketers Association is resolved, although that appears some way off with CA yet to provide the players with more in-depth details about its recent submission.

Brisbane-based Howard, in Melbourne on Wednesday, is contracted until mid-year but it’s understood he used a recent week off to deliberate whether he wants to retain the high-pressure role. He took the job in 2011 after the sweeping Argus report and is weighing up whether to remain until after the 2019 Ashes campaign.

The role involves much travel and time away from his family of four children, while the former Wallaby also has a successful pharmacy business.

How things shape up for the 2017/18 CA rankings list:

Gone from 2016/17: Adam Voges (retired)

On the way out: George Bailey, Joe Burns, Peter Nevill (if only one wicketkeeper selected)

Under pressure: Nathan Coulter-Nile, John Hastings, Peter Siddle, Shaun Marsh

Fighting for a spot: Steve O’Keefe, Jackson Bird, Travis Head, Adam Zampa, Billy Stanlake

New faces: Matt Renshaw, Peter Handscomb, Matthew Wade

Rubber-stamped: Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Patrick Cummins, Aaron Finch, James Faulkner, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, James Pattinson, Glenn Maxwell

Lion director Garth Davis looking at Somalian film with Rooney Mara

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His first film, Lion, has been a hit that landed six Oscar nominations, including best picture.
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His second, the religious drama Mary Magdalene, which stars Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Peter, is being lined up for a Hollywood awards season run even as it is still being finished in Melbourne.

Now n director Garth Davis is looking at a third collaboration with Mara for a film set in Somalia.

Davis told a cinema Q&A session for the extended version of Lion that he is considering a film adaptation of the 2013 memoir A House in the Sky, Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout’s account of being held hostage by teenage militants for 15 months.

She and n photojournalist Nigel Brennan were kidnapped, along with their translator and two drivers, in Mogadishu in 2008.

Mara, the two-time Oscar nominee for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Carol, would star. She played Lucy, Saroo Brierley’s girlfiend, in Lion before taking the title role in Mary Magdalene for a shoot in Italy.

“I’m not religious but this was the first time I’ve read something from that era that made sense to me,” Davis said of Mary Magdalene. “It was deeply moving and incredible, and I just had to make it. Often religion is used to control but this was a film that went back to what the message is really about.”

Like Lion last year, Mary Magdalene is due to be released in North America in November.

Women filmmakers start fight club

A small group of n filmmakers has raised the bar for future festivals by putting more than their reputations on the line.

Three women directors are training for boxing bouts as part of the first For Film’s Sake Festival in Sydney, which is aimed at challenging the lack of diversity in the film industry.

Festival director Sophie Mathisen is joined by Mohini Herse and Grace Tan for 12 intensive weeks of boxing lessons.

Grace Tan, Mohini Herse and Sophie Mathisen will take to the ring as part of a festival aimed at challenging the lack of diversity in the film industry. Photo: Louise Kennerley.

“It’s something new that potentially audiences haven’t seen before and it’s very much about providing models for other women to attempt something that they haven’t before,” Mathisen says. “It’s really important that there are more women entering different rings and doing things that might seem a … little bit against the grain.”

Mathisen, Herse and other women filmmakers stormed the red carpet dressed as sausages at the AACTA Awards in December, shouting “End the sausage party”, to protest at the lack of female representation in the industry.

Mathisen believes that fighting in the ring will be no tougher than battling for recognition as a female filmmaker.

“I’m still a very feminine woman but I’m also very fierce,” she says. “It’s the same thing as when we talk about strong female characters [in films] – this idea of complexity. We can be caring and nurturing and still be deft boxers.”

Twitter @gmaddox

Tedious rom-com based on flimsy wedding party premise

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If you feel the world doesn’t need any more romantic comedies based around weddings, Jeffrey Blitz’s listless Table 19 is unlikely to change your mind.

The title refers to the table at a wedding dinner occupied by the least desirable guests – a weak premise built on an especially American obsession with ad hoc markers of status.

In Britain, the situation would be straightforwardly about social class; in it’s hard to see the whole issue being given so much weight.

Perhaps that’s why Blitz cast an Aussie, Thomas Cocquerel, as the mystery guest who helps distract the lovelorn heroine (Anna Kendrick) from her obsession with her ex (Wyatt Russell), who’s also the brother of the bride.

Meanwhile, the jokes keep thudding into land. Many of the punchlines are scatological, although Blitz lacks the nerve to gross us out directly – so it’s a matter of how amused you are at hearing about how someone took a dump on a table or used the wrong washcloth to wipe his balls.

Kendrick’s fast, nervy delivery still has its appeal, but she risks becoming a self-parody if she keeps settling for these flimsy roles.

On the other hand, Stephen Merchant looks as amusingly stranded in this context as he does in any other, burbling about being a “successful businessman” while beaming in apology for taking up so much space.

Some day somebody will get the hint and cast him as one of the classic Shakespearean fools: Sir Andrew Aguecheek???, perhaps.

The other cast members might as well have been pulled out of a hat, from Lisa Kudrow??? to Tony Revolori???, who was Ralph Fiennes’ sidekick in The Grand Budapest Hotel.

All are talented, but none are able to stop Table 19 from feeling like a long evening where the company isn’t enough to dispel the tedium.

No respect for the west: Gould slams scheduling ‘stuff up’

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Penrith supremo Phil Gould has unloaded on the NRL over its scheduling of the traditional clash with local rivals Parramatta, declaring: “They’ve got no respect for the west whatsoever.”
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The Panthers-Eels clash is one of the biggest events for both clubs, although the fixture will be staged just once in 2017. The blue and golds will host the mountain men at ANZ Stadium at 3pm on Saturday, but Penrith will have to wait until next year to stage the local derby at Pepper Stadium.

Speaking on the Six Tackles with Gus podcast on Nine’s wwos.nine苏州夜总会招聘.au website, Gould fired a broadside at the NRL’s scheduling of the marquee clash.

“They’re only playing each other once this year and it’s at ANZ Stadium, Homebush, at 3pm on a Saturday when junior league is being played all over western Sydney,” Gould said.

“Could you pick a worse time to pick a game between the western Sydney derby? And why haven’t Penrith got Parramatta at Penrith this year? Why don’t those two teams they play each other twice?

“They talk about western Sydney strategy but they’ve got no respect for the west whatsoever; you couldn’t stuff it up more if you tried.”

Gould has been a long-term critic of the governing body, believing not enough respect is paid to the heartland area of western Sydney.

“I keep telling people Homebush is not western Sydney; it’s nowhere near western Sydney,” Gould said.

“Some people think anything west of ANZAC Parade is western Sydney.”

The outcome of the Eels-Panthers clash will have huge ramifications for both clubs. The Panthers are sitting on 13th spot on the ladder after opening their season with just two wins from seven matches. Another loss, to Parramatta, could effectively end their season just two months after they began their campaign as bookmaker favourites.

Parramatta forward Daniel Alvaro said his side would be equally desperate to stay within touching distance of the frontrunners after notching just one additional win.

“They are a good quality forward pack, it will be a good challenge for us this weekend,” Alvaro said.

“We’re not happy with our start, we know how much better we can be, so the boys are keen to get out there and show that.”

Gould held court on a number of topics during the podcast. Melbourne and the Warriors are among the suitors for playmaker Kieran Foran but “Gus” predicted he would end up in Sydney.

“My mail is that he wants to live in Sydney, end of story,” Gould said.

“Wherever he goes I hope he stays there for the rest of his career. If you want my personal opinion I’d say he would want to be with his former coach Des Hasler [at Canterbury].”

The Storm will attempt to bring Gareth Widdop back to the club if they miss out on Foran, but Gould believes the Dragons must keep him.

“St George can’t let him [Widdop] go, surely!” he said.

“He’d be the perfect replacement for the Melbourne Storm.

“I can’t believe the Dragons would be thinking of replacing him.”