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Why Tony Abbott’s decision to stay is a potential nightmare for Malcolm Turnbull

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull could face trouble from Tony Abbott. Photo: Anthony JohnsonTony Abbott ‘worse than the Terminator’Defiant Tony Abbott reveals he will stay
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Tony Abbott’s decision to contest the 2016 election presents a potential nightmare scenario for Malcolm Turnbull.

The protests from Abbott’s supporters that he is no Kevin Rudd are, for the time being, only about half right. The proof will be in how Abbott conducts himself in the year ahead.

Abbott ally Eric Abetz on Monday drew a sharp contrast between Rudd, the last former Australian prime minister to plan an extended stay on the backbench, and Abbott.

“Kevin Rudd was always about one thing only: Kevin Rudd. Whereas Tony Abbott has always been about one thing, namely, the Australian people,” Abetz said.

Rudd would contest that claim, of course, but given he ran a three-year guerilla insurgency to take back the leadership from Julia Gillard it is hard to dispute. It is true that a deep commitment to community service has been a guiding principle for Abbott, much to his credit, in his 22 years in Parliament.

Another difference is that while Rudd’s popularity with the public was often sky high and out of kilter with the dislike many in the party room felt for him, Abbott has had the opposite problem. Like Gillard, he has always been popular with colleagues, party loyalists, and liked by anyone who meets him, but he was never a popular leader with voters.

Abetz’s assertion that comparisons are not valid simply does not pass the sniff test. Further, the comparison is inevitable, and will be made by voters whatever Pollyanna-esque reality the Abbott loyalists might wish to be true.

Australian voters are actually pretty damn smart and, if the focus-grouped lines that political parties try on them are any guide, don’t always get the credit they deserve from major political parties.

They will watch Abbott, now that he has decided to stay in Parliament, and judge for themselves if he and his supporters continue to chip the Prime Minister and his frontbench colleagues on issues like national security and workplace relations.

If the rumblings of discontent continue, if the outbreaks of discord and factional enmity grow, they will mark down Abbott and his cohort.

But they will also mark down Turnbull and his Liberal team, and play Bill Shorten back into the game (and doesn’t Labor know it).

A return to the frontbench for Abbott may salve the wound.

But it is not yet clear that Turnbull is willing to countenance this, nor if Abbott would be interested in such a return.

Abbott’s unpopularity and the new leader’s stratospheric ratings give Turnbull some measure of political protection; conversely, Abbott’s popularity with the Liberal base, who will defend the former leader and his right to speak for conservatives to the last, will remain a potential problem for Turnbull, especially if he stumbles seriously down the track.

This is the nightmare scenario for the Prime Minister. He is all but powerless to discipline a former leader, with a rump of disaffected allies, who chooses to speak his mind from the backbench.

It is for Abbott to decide whether his future contributions help or hinder the Liberal Party.

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Swimmer rescued from rough seas at Queenscliff Beach

Lifeguards reached the man and paddled him to the beach. Photo: Nick Moir Lifeguards and surfers battled powerful waves close to rocks to pull the man out. Photo: Nick Moir
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A number of people jumped into the water to save the swimmer at Queenscliff. Photo: Nick Moir

Lifeguards and surfers performed a dramatic rescue at Queenscliff Beach on Monday morning after a swimmer was washed against rocks in heavy seas.

The swimmer, thought to be aged in his 60s, appeared to be “blue in the face” and unconscious in the churning water when rescuers pulled him onto a board and paddled him to the sand about 9.15am.

The man was resuscitated at the beach, which had been closed at the time of the incident because of the powerful surf.

A NSW Ambulance spokesman said the patient was taken to Manly Hospital, and a hospital spokeswoman said he was in a stable condition on Monday afternoon.

Herald photographer Nick Moir was on the beach at the time and saw the frantic rescue unfold.

Moir said the man, who is thought to be a regular swimmer at Queenscliff, had earlier entered the water with another man, also estimated to be in his 60s.

“They swam out at the north of Queenscliff using quite a strong rip into some very heavy seas,” Moir said, adding that the man appeared to be an experienced swimmer.

“At some point it looks like he has been knocked in the head or something.”

LIfeguards said the man was washed against rocks, near the outlet for the Queenscliff Rock Pool, not a stormwater drain as initially reported.

Moir said no one noticed the man for a number of minutes, until a surfer saw him “bobbing around”.

“Everybody has run over in these really big waves trying to pull him out. They couldn’t pull him out. Some surfers got in there, and then the lifesavers [sic] saw it  … The surfers and the lifesavers got him with their boards but it took them 10 minutes just to pull him out of this hole.”

Moir said the man’s colour improved after he was resuscitated on the beach.

Manly Council lifeguard Rhiannon Lougher said lifeguards were on the beach when they noticed people “making a bit of a commotion” near the pool.

She said a number of surfers had jumped into the water and were trying to drag the man off the rocks, and two lifeguards paddled over on rescue boards.

Ms Louhger said the lifeguards pulled the man onto the board and saw he was “blue in the face”.

“They put him on his back and performed rescue breaths, then brought him back to shore and reassessed him. During that reassessment they noticed he was breathing, and they got the ambulance there,” she said.

“He seems very lucky.”

Ms Lougher said the beach was closed at the time because there was a “fairly solid surf going through there”.

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Gun found in Queanbeyan high school after shot fired at Fergus Road house

A shot was allegedly fired at the window of a Fergus Street home. Photo: Karleen MinneyA gun has been found at a high school in Queanbeyan and police believe it might be connected to a shot fired at a home in Fergus Road last week.
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Police were called to a property on Fergus Road about 2am on Wednesday last week, after receiving reports a gun had been fired at a house. The occupants, a 31-year-old man, an 18-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl, were uninjured.

Paul John Barnes, 46, was remanded in custody when he appeared in Queanbeyan Local Court on Monday charged with 10 offences, including stalking and assault, some of which relate to the incident at Fergus Road.

In court, police prosecutor Anthony Strik told Magistrate Mark Douglass a gun had been found at a Queanbeyan high school, which was not identified, about 9am on Monday.

Mr Strik said police found the shotgun, with a cartridge, although at the time of the court hearing no DNA analysis had been conducted.

“It is currently being done, but will take some time,” he told the court.

Barnes first appeared in court on Thursday last week, when he was also remanded in custody.

In court on Monday, he entered pleas of not guilty for seven offences, all of which related to assault, stalking and intimidation.

Pleas of guilty were entered for three offences relating to cultivation and possession of a prohibited drug, cannabis.

Solicitor Rosemary Benet told the court that while Barnes had a criminal history, he had “settled down” in recent years to provide a stable home for his partner and 11-year-old son.

She said there was no evidence before the court that could connect Barnes to the shooting.

The court was told Barnes had spinal degeneration and had trouble walking.

As Barnes’ application for bail was denied, he told the court he was his son’s hero.

“Isn’t that enough to stay out of trouble?” he said.

He called the alleged victims “bastards” as he talked about how he was going to lose his son.

He said if he could hardly walk because of his disability, how was he able to run from the scene where the gunshot was fired?

Mr Strik opposed bail. He said it was probable Barnes would be sent to jail if found guilty of the crimes. The 31-year-old victim was in a wheelchair and was easily spotted if Barnes wanted to find him.

Magistrate Douglass took into account Barnes’ “lengthy” criminal history and said there was a strong case against him. He said there was “far too great a risk” for him to be released on bail.

CCTV footage of the court is likely to be reviewed after a man not connected with the case was accused of calling Barnes’ partner “a dog” during proceedings.

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NAB business confidence index declines amid recent turmoil

NAB’s business customer satisfaction ratings have improved compared to rivals, new figures show.Business confidence in December and the first half of January showed a small drop but was still in positive territory, according to the NAB business survey, despite the recent global market turmoil.
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The index fell to 3 in December from November’s 5 reading, while the business conditions index fell to 7 from 10, according to the survey.

NAB business surveys are usually taken at the end of the month, but the survey for December was taken on January 15, meaning that business reaction to the recent market turmoil is included.

“Recent financial market turmoil highlights the risks to the outlook, but has not fundamentally changed our view of the Australian economy,” said NAB Group chief economist Alan Oster.

“While business confidence took a step back… the index remained encouragingly resilient – and positive – with the index only falling from 5 to 3.”

Business conditions, he said, were at “quite elevated levels, despite also easing a little in the month.

“The NAB Business Conditions Index fell to +7 points over the period (from +10 in November), which is still above the long-run average of the survey (+5 points).”

“This outcome suggests there are no real signs (beyond normal monthly volatility) that there is a fundamental weakening in the non-mining recovery,” Mr Oster said in a statement.

Resilience in both business confidence and conditions needs to be maintained over coming months if the non-mining recovery is to remain on track, he said.

ANZ economist Daniel Gradwell said the “soft” result was “likely impacted by the timing of the survey”.

“Although the importance of global events on domestic confidence should not be downplayed, we would caution against reading too much into one soft result. If some form of calm returns to markets, a rebound next month would not be surprising.”

Commsec chief economist Craig James said the result was reasonably good.

“There will always be short-term bumps along the journey taken by Aussie businesses,” he said.

“And while business confidence and conditions both eased a touch in response to recent global jitters, the long-term position hasn’t changed. In fact the annual average of the business conditions index hit a fresh seven-year high in December.”

Consumer confidence has also taken a hit in January.

Global market turmoil hit Australian consumer confidence badly in January, with a fall in Westpac’s monthly index and ANZ’s weekly index confirming a marked drop in sentiment.

The Westpac Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment fell 3.5 per cent in January to 97.3 from 100.8 in December.

“The index is at its lowest level since September 2015, but remains 4.3 per cent above its level of a year ago,” said Westpac chief economist Bill Evans last week.

“The spate of negative news on the international front and the spillover effect on financial markets” impacted consumers, he said.

The Westpac figure confirms the sentiment reported in the ANZ-Roy Morgan weekly consumer confidence index, released on Tuesday. That index declined 0.8 per cent in the week ended January 17 , following a 1.9 per cent fall the previous week.

Further losses on the share market amid ongoing concerns around China’s economic growth prospects are likely to have weighed on confidence, said the bank.

“Consumer confidence fell a modest 0.8 per cent last week, leaving levels just a tick (0.4 per cent) above their long run average,” said ANZ co-head of Australian Economics, Felicity Emmett, last week.

“This follows a dip in the previous week which was likely driven by news flow on global financial market volatility and concerns over China’s economic growth.”

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Usman Khawaja’s Australian one-day snub indicates selectors are out of touch

Form of his life: Usman Khawaja plays a shot during the Big Bash League final. Photo: Robert PreziosoKhawaja guides Thunder to BBL titleZampa selected in one-day squad
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Jeff Thomson and the late Wally Grout are being inducted into the Australian cricket hall of fame this week. Well, if there was a hall of fame for selection bloopers then there would surely be a new addition as well.

In the grand tradition of head-scratchers from the national panel – and there’s been a couple of humdingers in the past year or so – this is surely up there as an all-time classic.

Usman Khawaja, the hottest batsman on the planet right now, can’t make a 14-man Australian one-day squad? Not even when one of the panel members, Mark Waugh, says on television that he is batting better than Brian Lara? Huh?

For Waugh’s sake, let’s hope he was simply out-voted.

Because leaving Khawaja out of any Australian side at the moment simply makes no sense.

The selectors have banged on about a mantra of always picking the best possible Australian team since time immemorial – or at least since this particular panel took charge in its present form nearly two years ago. They’ve gone on about having runs on the board.

The omission of Khawaja proves that policy is about as solid as Australia’s out-field catching in Sydney on Saturday night.

Let’s go over the numbers, again. Because while they appear not to have made their way onto the selectors’ phone hook-up it’s not as if they have crept up on us.

Try this on for size for your last nine scores, for Australia and for Sydney Thunder: 174, 9 not out, 121, 109 not out, 144, 56 not out, 62, 104 not out and 70. Going slightly further back Khawaja has six hundreds and three fifties in his past 12 innings across all formats.

Stats can be skewed sometimes to suggest someone is in a form slump when he probably isn’t, or vice versa, but there’s no way of twisting those figures to suggest anything other than he is in rare air. And that’s without even mentioning the manner in which he’s made the runs – two centuries in a Test series against proper opposition, New Zealand, and then a succession of tournament-defining innings in the Big Bash that careered Sydney Thunder to the title. That form shouldn’t just edge you into a squad. It should just about make sure the squad is picked around you.

The selectors’ defence was inevitably along the lines of: how do you drop batsmen from a side that just beat India 4-1, and repeatedly blew past 300 along the way?

“We tried our hardest to work him into the side, but we just couldn’t find anyone to drop…because they’re all in fantastic form,” chairman Rod Marsh said in Adelaide on Monday.

“It’s very disappointing for him. He probably should make a phone call to Shaun Marsh and ask him how he felt after being dropped after getting 182.”

No, it’s the chief selector who should have called Shaun Marsh or another player such as Aaron Finch. The message being: As well as you’re travelling, Khawaja can’t be left out.

There is a Sheffield Shield match on between Marsh’s Western Australia and NSW on New Zealand’s South Island at the same time as the ODI series, so he could have been sent there for a hit with the red-ball in foreign conditions in case he is required for either or both of the two Tests next month.

Instead, it’s Khawaja heading back to state cricket for a Shield match for Queensland in Adelaide before joining the Test squad across the ditch.

Aside from the match payments he doesn’t lose that much out of being snubbed for these three one-dayers against New Zealand. He’s still the Test No.3 and as Rod Marsh indicated on Monday he’s likely to be in the World Twenty20 squad, as he must be.

The real losers out of what would otherwise have been a non-eventful team announcement at the tail end of a home summer are the selectors themselves.

The Khawaja decision will only add to suspicions that at least some of the panel members are out of touch, remember they made a hash of last year’s Ashes series with some of their selections and non-selections. Plenty of heads in cricket circles also continue to shake about Rod Marsh’s undeterred sponsorship of Matthew Wade as Australia’s limited-overs wicketkeeper. Marsh said on Monday he was “shocked” when Wade floored a couple of catches in Canberra, one of them more simple than the other. Others in and around the game wouldn’t have been.

Two years ago John Inverarity, at 70, stood down as selection chairman. Perhaps, at 68, it’s time Marsh was replaced by someone like Waugh.

A commentator for Network Ten, at least we know that he’s been watching Khawaja.

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Melbourne’s new-wave Vietnamese restaurants

Cooking up a storm: Thi Le, chef and co-owner of Anchovy in Richmond. Photo: Simon Schluter Blood pudding served in a cosberg lettuce leaf at Anchovy. Photo: Wayne Taylor
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Pho Nom owner-chef Jerry Mai believes in ethically sourced food. Photo: Simon Schluter

Luke Nguyen’s Vietnamese street food secrets

Born in a Malaysian refugee camp to Vietnamese and Cambodian parents, Thi Le came to Australia aged two. She grew up swapping lunches with Lebanese, Turkish and Filipino friends in Sydney’s western suburbs before going on to work as a chef in hip restaurants including Cumulus, Luxembourg, the Town Mouse and Sydney’s (now defunct) Universal. She recently opened a restaurant of her own, Richmond’s Anchovy, whose elegant interiors and sophisticated menu has got the food critics talking.

Le is one of a band of next-generation restaurateurs who are innovating the Vietnamese dining scene by focusing on quality ingredients, stepped-up service and social media-friendly aesthetics. Spawn of the cheap and cheerful eateries that still line pockets of Footscray, Springvale and Richmond’s Victoria Street, this new-wave includes recent newcomers St Cloud, Hochi Mama and Pho Nom, just to name a few.

“Those old restaurateurs, they introduced Vietnamese cuisine to Australia,” says Le, now 30. “I guess for myself, we’re educating people. There’s more to Vietnamese food.” For example, French cooking may not be the only influence on Vietnamese cuisine. “Last year we were researching Vietnamese food and what shocked me was the influence of Indian food on southern Vietnam.”

It turns out the Vietnamese have a version of biryani, love using cardamom and, rather than being based on the French crepe, it’s more likely the Vietnamese pancake is offspring to the dosa. “For me, that’s quite exciting – exciting enough to tell my family. They didn’t know about the history of those dishes,” adds Le.

While many of Anchovy’s dishes, such as blood pudding, are unlikely to grace a Victoria Street menu anytime soon, some old favourites, such as rice paper rolls, endure. The difference, says Le, is that instead of filling them with cheap bean sprouts, her version tastes more like the rolls Vietnamese families eat at home, with ingredients including pickled and fried shallots, garlic chives, perilla, betel leaf, shredded coconut, noodles, mint, coriander and house-cured fish. (The difference is also reflected in the price: Le’s rolls sell for $8 each.)

Pho Nom’s Jerry Mai, 38, says new-wave restaurants tend to treat their ingredients with greater respect. “There’s no bicarb or baking soda marinating the meat [typically used to tenderise cheap, tougher cuts and to make them appear larger by bloating them with water],” says Mai. “It’s just approaching food as you would in a western restaurant; creating a really nice Vietnamese dish using traditional techniques or flavours.”

And the new-wave restaurateurs have also grown up with social media, which may even be influencing their cooking. Thai Ho, 31, co-owner of Hochi Mama, in the city, says dishes at his bar restaurant are designed to be photogenic and “Instagram-friendly.” “It’s for the modern age, now,” says Ho. “Everyone wants to go to restaurants and take photos of the food that they’re eating and our food is all photogenic, which is great.” Born in Australia to parents fleeing Vietnam in 1980, Ho owned nightclubs before opening this Vietnamese bar-restaurant late last year. With its graffiti-decorated interior, dim lighting and R&B soundtrack Hochi Mama is in stark contrast to the modest Formica and neon lighting on offer at first-generation eateries. “It’s very Melbourne,” says Ho.

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Grow our tech startups in 2016

I’Mgoing to stick my neck out and predict a big year for tech startups with Sydney and Melbourne being Australia’s startup major hotspots. But it’s not all about them. Newcastle, has an active and growing ecosystem of tech startups and if industry and governments collaborate to support an environment that enables these entrepreneurs to successfully grow global businesses, they will create more jobs, lift the local economy and make our city a more desirable place to live, work and visit.
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Unfortunately, our local ecosystem has to be one of the best kept tech secrets in Australia. It’s so secret, that industry and economic policies for regional NSW don’t even acknowledge this ecosystem or its potential.

I don’t blame governments for the lack of encouragement or policy. While local tech groups, university, accelerator programs, and co-working spaces have all contributed to our emerging tech scene, our key challenge is that we struggle to generate a narrative of a cohesive and collaborative scene that journalists, politicians, and investors can follow.We’re not going to be a Silicon Valley or even London’s Silicon Roundabout, butwe could be a Boulder or a Manchester. Newcastle has a huge exciting tech pipeline of talent.

To create a narrative, individuals or industry groups cannot act alone. We need to learn how to collaborate to build stronger partnerships and networks with traditional industry members, governments, and other stakeholders to grow the city’s reputation. You’d think it would be easy. Besides a few exceptions, we all know of each other.If we can successfully collaborate, I’m sure governments will increase their support for our tech ecosystem to develop.

Experts have long predicted that emerging information and communication technologies will have a dramatic impact on Australia with positive and negative consequences for regional communities. The positive is that according to a 2013 report by PwC, the Australian technology startup sector has the potential to contribute $109 billionof GDP to the Australian economy and 540,000 jobs by 2033.

The negative can be found in a recent NSW Parliamentary library report that says many low and middle skilled workers are at risk of having their jobs computerised and therefore missing out on jobs in the future unless we get on board now.Let’s make 2016 a year we collaborate.

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How Stan Grant delivered Australia’s ‘greatest anti-racism speech’ off-the-cuff

Stan GrantIs this Australia’s ‘Martin Luther King’ moment?
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When journalist Stan Grant stepped onto the podium in a large Sydney hall on a cold October evening to address a crowd of about 100, he had only an idea of what he wanted to say.

What emerged has gone viral online. Grant has been compared to US civil rights activist Martin Luther King and his speech labelled our greatest against racism.

And, unbelievably, it was delivered off the cuff.

“I didn’t want to write anything, I didn’t want to be standing there looking down at notes. I just wanted to look people directly in the eye. I wanted to make a statement about how we live with the weight of history.”

Not that Stan Grant needed to practise his speech beforehand. Like his maternal grandfather, Keith Cameron, Grant is a natural orator. Growing up, he would listen to his grandfather tell stories about love and survival in the country of their ancestors.

The speech was delivered at the IQ2 Racism Debate on October 27, but released by the Ethics Centre online only last week.

“In the winter of 2015 Australia turned to face itself,” Grant said, voice booming through the champagne-sipping crowd. “It looked into its soul and it had to ask this question: Who are we?”

With a description of what happened to footballer Adam Goodes last winter, when booing on the field sounded a “howl of humiliation”, the journalist began his powerful speech.

Returning from covering Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to Washington for Sky News, Grant says the response to his speech has been overwhelming.

“It’s been astounding, really. It took me by surprise, I had returned from Washington as it was being posted and then to see it take on this whole new life, considering I had given the speech some months before, it was really surprising.

“I didn’t anticipate that sort of reaction when I first gave the speech It was just something that came very naturally to me, I just wanted to make a statement about how we see Australia and how my family in particular has navigated Australia and dealt with the weight of history here.

“But other people have given these types of speeches before, people who have been fighting these battles well before me so it was really surprising and really humbling that people would come to it but at the same time, really humbling that Australians are wanting to have this hard conversation and wanting to grapple with these issues.”

A ‘Martin Luther King’ moment …

Journalist Mike Carlton described Grant’s speech as a “Martin Luther King moment” on Twitter – a description quickly picked up and used widely by Australian media.

“That’s really flattering but I am not in any way worthy of that sort of comparison,” Grant said of the juxtaposition. “It’s a little bit embarrassing. I’m not even saying that what I have to say or my contribution sits with the contribution of other Indigenous people in Australia who have just blazed a trail.”

After the speech went viral, Grant told Fairfax Media that as a journalist he had travelled extensively and saw how dark pasts could cloud the path forward.

“We have struggled with dispossession, we have struggled with colonisation, conflict, we are traumatised by our history in the same way that the people I report on overseas are traumatised by their history,” he said.

“And just trying to navigate that as a person, as a human being, as families, as mother and fathers and uncles and cousins and brothers and sisters is extraordinarily difficult and it is tiring for Aboriginal people in Australia. So I just wanted to make a very personal statement about an amazing country but a country that can be better and whose people can command that it do better.

“So to put it in the pantheon of people like Martin Luther King, I wouldn’t even mention myself in that breath… I am not anywhere near being considered like a giant like that.”

‘A pretty news face, a communicator of the highest order’

Author and public speaker Tony Wilson, who curates a website comprised of his favourite speeches, said Grant’s words that night were “as good a speech on racism that we have had in Australia”.

“Both in terms of delivery and content, it intertwines the personal with the political and it shines a light on that uncomfortable part of our history that we often think of as ‘too long ago’ or ‘not me’.

On his website Speakola, Grant’s speech as been “a smash hit” – already viewed by thousands. “Overwhelming the response has been positive, people who want to reflect on this part of our history and think Australia needs to change. A very small minority have reacted angrily.

“What’s surprising about Stan Grant is that he has grown from someone who might have just been another talking head, a pretty news face, into a communicator of the highest order.

“He has written a timeless speech, beautifully sculptured, brilliantly delivered. He’s not Martin Luther King, no mortal will hit those rhetorical heights, but it’s as close as we have come.”

When told that Grant improvised that cold evening in October, Wilson is shocked. “That’s ridiculous. I honestly can’t believe that,” he said.

“The structure of it was just so good, he moved from the present day with Adam Goodes stating the contentious truth then took us back to a personal and collective past in such an ordered way that I’d just assumed meticulous preparation.”

Living with the weight of history

Grant said he didn’t plan what he would say on purpose.

Because it was personal, the words came naturally. “I’ve lived it, my family have lived it. I was raised on these stories. My people are extraordinary oral storytellers, and this is what we do. I just wanted to make a very direct, a very honest heartfelt statement about how we deal with our history.”

In the speech, Grant described the Australian dream as “rooted in racism” and said the past haunts us still, speaking of the lower life expectancy and higher rates of incarceration experienced by indigenous Australians.

He said we sing of the dream in our anthem that doesn’t exist. “But my people die young in this country – we die 10 years younger than average Australians – and we are far from free.”

He called for Australians to acknowledge history and have a hard conversation about the past.

On the eve of Australia Day, Grant said it was important to be proud but to also hold ourselves to account.

“We can be a country that can grapple with the unresolved grievance that still sits at the heart of settlement. We cannot allow and we cannot accept Indigenous people living in the conditions they have to endure today. It is unacceptable and it is especially unacceptable for a nation that has so much to be proud of.”

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State government’s $22b public housing overhaul

THE stategovernment’s planto privatise a vast chunk of the socialhousing in NSW has received a mixed review in the Hunter.
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On Sunday the minister for social housing, Brad Hazzard,announced a policy to spur the construction of thousands of homes across the state bybulldozingageingpublichousing estates and selling them off to private property developers whowould then be able torebuildtheminto communities with a private to public ratio of70:30.

The government says the plan will generate about$22 billion in construction activity across the state in the next decade, and see the construction ofabout 6,000 new social and affordablehomes, as well asreplacing another 17,000.

The policy alsoincludes a plan to transfer 35 per cent of thegovernment’s publichousing stock to community housing providers, which would also have to offer support services to tenants.

While the government has not yet come to grips with where exactly the targeted housing estates would be, a list of 20 of the most disadvantaged public housing areasin the state includes Cessnock.

The response to theplan has been broadly positiveby the not-for-profit sector, with Hunter-based community housing provider Compass Housing, which has about2,500 tenants across the Hunter,welcoming what would potentially mean anincreased role in the sector.

Compass currently houses about 2,500 tenants in the Hunter, out of about12,000across the region.

Compass managing director Greg Budworth said on Monday that the new strategyhad “the potential to change the face of social housing in NSW forever”.

“In Newcastle and Lake Macquarie there are almost3000 households on the waiting list and in Maitland and Cessnock there are almost 1000,” he said.

“Across the Hunter and New England region it’s more than 6500, and across NSW it’s just a touch under 60,000.

“Because there are no shareholders to pay and less bureaucracy, community housing providers are able to deliver more innovative, flexible and outcomes based solutions that enhance both the quality of life of tenants and the utility of government assets.”

But Labor has warned that the policy too heavily favours the private market, rather than public housing tenants, and the member forWallsend, Sonia Hornery, said the plan would be“at the expense of disadvantaged families”.

“Young people, the elderly and low-income earners have been facing a housing crisis for years now,” she said.

“There are sixty thousand families currently on the public housing waiting list and the booming property market in the state is putting upward pressure on rents.

“I don’t think knocking down public housing stock and selling the land to developers is the way forward on this.”

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Sundance 2016: Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe stars in Swiss Army Man as farting corpse

What a gas … Paul Dano contemplates his new best mate (Daniel Radcliffe). Photo: Sundance Film InstituteA bizarre indie film starring Daniel Radcliffe as a farting corpse with supernatural powers that turn him into a flatulent jet ski has left audiences at the Sundance Film Festival perplexed.
Nanjing Night Net

Paul Dano co-stars in Swiss Army Man as Hank, a suicidal castaway whose zest for life returns after the dead body washes up on the beach and he discovers he can use it as a gas-powered escape vehicle.

But that is only the beginning of the corpse’s hidden talents. As well as functioning as a portable water tank and a weapon (the body shoots objects from its mouth), Radcliffe’s character, Manny, is also able to direct Hank back to civilisation with a penis that apparently doubles as a GPS.

Eventually Manny comes partially back to life and the pair form a bond that goes considerably beyond what would conventionally be described as a bromance.

In a Q and A following the screening, which reportedly saw a number of walkouts, Radcliffe said the chance to play the multi-functional cadaver was “too much fun to pass up”.

The movie is directed by Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, a pair better known for creating music videos.

“Originally it was just a fart joke that Dan made to me,” Scheinert said. “And then, joking along the way about how the man riding a farting corpse could be a feature, we stumbled on something personal.

“It was an opportunity to explore mortality and big ideas but with fart jokes.”

Dano, who recently starred in the critically acclaimed Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy, said he fell for the film almost immediately after receiving the script.

“Once [his character, Hank] was riding the farting body, I was in,” he said.

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